2015 Marine Corps Half Marathon - The Dip
Runners From The 10KClick thumbnail to view full-size
It is that time of year. Runners from all over come to historic Fredericksburg, Virginia to run in the Marine Corps Half-Marathon. The full event is actually three races, a 5K, a 10K and a half-marathon. The normal start time is 0700 in the morning
My spot for watching is near a corner that closes to traffic for the morning. A Marine gets assigned to the corner every year. His job is to keep traffic off the road for a designated period. There is a different Marine at the corner every year.
Two photographers show up to take pictures this year. It is apparent they plan to stay for a while, since they bring small sitting stools and camera stands with them. They are all new faces, so I talk to them briefly about the routine.
The corner they are at is past the nine mile mark on the route of the half-marathon that runs through Fredericksburg, Virginia. At about ten minutes after the start of the 10k we are used to seeing the first runners from that race. While the 10K runners go through, we will also see a few cyclists. About half an hour later the first half-marathon runners will go by. As the race winds down, some folks will want to drive on the road that has been closed. Then, as the race is ending we will see the bus go by, a cleanup crew go by, and a group to pick up the pylons and ‘road-closed’ signs. Police cars usually are the last ones trhough.
The corner is also patrolled frequently through the race by a police officer from Fredericksburg. The police officer is the same officer as usual. He knows the routine.
This year, a dog runs up the street about ten minutes ahead of the runners. Two thoughts pass through my mid as the dog runs up the street and heads down the embankment to the river.
One, I quietly voice: "I bet his name is Delta". No one heard, and probably just as well. I don't want to be the one to explain that one to a Marine.
The second was "The hounds have gotten ahead of the hares".
Runners are not the only race event for the day. There are also cyclists that come through. The first one is preceded by a police officer on a motorcycle, siren whooping to warn runneres that a much faster cycler is coming up behind them.
Watching The Half
Shortly after the first runners had passed through, a friend showed up to watch the race from the corner. He runs and his wife runs too. They run for fun. They trade off at event time on who runs and who watches the kids. There is a group from work who also runs in relay marathons, those two hundred mile gruels where runners trade off running different sections of the course. Some from that group also run in this race. I see them sometimes as they run by, and try to get their pictures. So far, the results have been laughable.
I tried to shout out encouragement this year: "The hill is a mile ahead!", or better "Only four miles more to go!"
My marathoner friend had different shouts as he noticed folks from the 200 mile relays running by. "If you can do a 200 miler, this is easy!" or "If you can do a 200 miler, this is a warm-up!”
Many of the runners emerging from the Dip were not smiling, but the photographer was taking pictures. So sometimes we shouted "Smile! He’s going to take your picture!"
Somebody ran by wearing a dress-up hat on their head. I wanted to shout "Go Cubs Go!" but I realized it was not a bear or cub hat at all, but maybe a cow? It was a white cap with a big brown nose, and it had horns. Cubs don't have horns. So we shouted "Nice Hat".
Lessons From The Corner
As runners go by they shout out their appreciation to the young Marine and Police Officer on the corner “Thank you for your service!”
The young Marine tells me that he has never been off-base in his uniform. As we talk about that, I realize how much things have changed since I was young. When we saw a man in uniform - police, or fire, or Army, or Navy, or Air Force or Marine - respect was automatic. We were taught that these men deserved that respect since they were often putting themselves at risk for their community. But then I also realized there is a totally different perspective out there today that regards a man in uniform as a target. This is sad. I realized that the reason this young man had never worn his uniform off-base was because his leaders likely to seek to protect them from these changing times. When that happens, these young men also miss the chance to learn that their service is respected by many. While we, the somewhat older and more silent majority understand why things are this way, it seems the chances are pretty good that these young men rarely get to hear the everyday man say “Thank you for your service”. It is called Respect.
About two hours into the race, some of the watchers leave to meet their runners at the end of the race. The police officer leaves the scene. This leaves the young Marine as the sole authority on the corner. I tell the Marine he is the lone authority on the corner now. Shortly after, I realize the police officer has moved to a different position one block over, and sets up to block the street so that drivers can not turn into the corner. Only one lone car drives up and gets turned back from the corner. In prior years, the corner had seen some angst. Routines get changed on this one day. It is inconvenient at first, but we all adjust.
Towards the end of the race, we see runners who carry the flag more often. I recall talking to one marathoner maybe ten years ago who had said that seeing the flag in front of him kept him going at the end of the race. It is called Inspiration.
It may be cloudy, but it is a beautiful day.
- Historic Half
Web-Site about the Historic Half
- Thousands run in Historic Half Marathon - Fredericksburg.com: Local
Thousands of runners took over much of Fredericksburg Sunday morning as part of the eighth annual Marine Corps Historic Half Marathon.
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