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The 33rd Marine Corps Marathon began with a bang at 8 a.m. Sunday, with a 155 mm howitzer signaling the start. More than 30,000 people participated in the marathon and 10K.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Bryan G. Carfrey

All-Marine running team keeps Challenge Cup

28 Oct 2008 | Sgt. Clinton Firstbrook

Thousands of runners hit the road for the Marine Corps Marathon Sunday, but it was two first-time marathoners who won the men’s and women’s division, a first in the race’s 33-year history according to marathon officials. 

Andrew Dumm, 23, from Arlington, Va., completed the 26.2-mile course in 2 hours, 22 minutes and 44 seconds, while Cate Fenster, 37, from Wooster, Ohio, came in as the top female finisher with a time of 2:48:55.

Corporal Thomas Kunish, the first Marine to cross the finish line, ran 2:30:12, smashing his personal best by three-and-a-half minutes. Kunish attributes part of his recording-setting performance to Navy Lt. Cmdr. Timothy Fahey, who pulled away from a large pack of runners with him near the 20th mile marker. From there, Kunish said they fed off each other’s strength and started picking off runners one by one until they crossed the finish line hand-in-hand.

“I told him ‘you’ve helped me run the best race of my life,’” said the 28-year-old fiscal clerk with 3rd Marine Logistics Group. “Neither of us wanted it to come down to who had the best kick, so we decided to finish together.”  

However, Kunish’s sub 5:45 minute-per-mile pace wasn’t enough for the All-Marine running team to win the Armed Forces Competition, but it did help retain the Challenge Cup from the British Royal Navy/Marine team for the second straight year.

“Our coaches have been phenomenal,” Kunish said. “We couldn’t have done it without their continuous support. From top down we’re all one big family.”

Overall, more than 30,000 people participated in the marathon and 10K. Many runners wore short sleeve T-shirts and shorts, but a few drew shouts of encouragement at every corner along the race route due to their motivational attire. One such individual was 2nd Lt. Thomas Macphee, a student at The Basic School who decided to run the marathon in his camouflaged uniform and combat boots while carrying his company’s guidon.   

“The mile markers are just showing up out of nowhere,” said the 24-year-old from Spotsylvania, Va., as he passed the sixth mile marker. “I’m feeling great.”

Macphee said he crossed the finish line around 5 hours and 14 minutes. Unfortunately the device which recorded his progress came off his shoe during the race so his official time isn’t listed.

“My mom called me when I was heading home on the metro and told me the race’s Web site said I was still somewhere between miles three and five,” Macphee explained. “If I’m able to run it again next year I’m definitely going to make sure there’s no way it could fall off.”    

Another runner had the misfortune of reaching the start line 31 minutes late.

“I’ll be lucky if I finish in time,” said Jim Rider, right before passing the ninth mile marker. “I suffered a stroke four years ago then had a pacemaker put in, so my run-time has really slowed down.” 

The 73-year-old former Marine Corps lieutenant colonel from Hampstead, N.C., also said this year marked his 17th time running the Marine Corps Marathon. When asked why he keeps running the 26.2-mile race every year, he responded with “there’s just nothing quite like it.” 

For race results and information on next year’s events, visit

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