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The Marine Corps Marathon Preview with Race Director Alex Hetherington

Established in 1976, the Marine Corps Marathon has grown to one of the largest marathons in the United States. If you’re looking for an inclusive fall marathon that lets you experience the rich history of Washington DC, look no further than the MCM.

While the Marine Corps Marathon (also known as MCM, the USMC Marathon, or the Marine Marathon) rivals many of the World Marathon Majors in size, it’s distinguished by the fact that it does not offer prize money at the event. Instead, it was created to promote goodwill among the military services and the civilian community and encourage physical fitness. In its debut year there were 1,175 runners, making it the largest first-time marathon in the United States.

The Marine Corps Marathon offers all the amenities you would expect at this type of event including impeccable organization, but is uniquely supported by active duty Marines assisting in the race from start to finish. Aside from the marathon, there is also a 10k that starts on the Mall and has the same finish as the marathon, and a 50k that follows the marathon route with an additional 5 mile out and back section.

Race Director Alex Hetherington on the Marine Corps Marathon

This week on the podcast is Alex Hetherington, race director for the Marine Corps Marathon. Alex is not your typical race director – he is a retired Marine aviator and was a member of the All-Marine running team from 1995-2009, including a win at the inaugural Armed Forces Marathon Championship in 1998. Prior to becoming race director in 2022, Alex spent five years as the Show Director of the Modern Day Marine Military Exposition.

Alex has run the Marine Corps Marathon an astounding 27 times, so he is intimately familiar with the entire race experience. Our conversation focuses on what you can expect from this year’s race, including getting to the start, the course layout, and how to navigate the post-race activities. 

We cover the details of the event that are essential to runners, including:

  • What makes the MCM so special, and why it is referred to as “The People’s Marathon”
  • Why there is no “typical” weather for MCM
  • The importance of planning pre-race logistics to get to the starting area
  • How the newest race sponsors help support its environmental ethic
  • Locations of hills on the course and how to tackle them
  • How the course layout helps runners runners approach it in segments
  • Fueling and hydration options and pace group support
  • Unique aspects of the race, including support from active duty Marines throughout

Alex’s knowledge and love for this marathon permeates our conversation. Although this year’s event is sold out, definitely consider the Marine Corps Marathon experience for the years ahead!

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