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I've run eight Marine Corps Marathons (MCM), my first at 50. One of the eight was virtual during the COVID era. The MCM has the most excellent swag with its iconic competitor jerseys and Marine Corps-themed finisher medals. Yet, honestly, the crowds are overwhelming. The MCM typically has around 30,000 runners racing through Northern Virginia and the heart of the District of Columbia. There is an enormous spectator turnout along all but the most remote parts of the course. The race begins at the Pentagon and ends at the Iwo Jima Memorial. The Memorial and nearby Arlington are a sea of people as the runners complete their races and rejoin friends, family, and spectators in a huge outdoor celebration. Being a Marine makes the experience even more meaningful as I watch Marines help and direct the event.

Today, I ran in one of my MCM jerseys. The temperature was in the mid-30s, not unlike the weather for many MCMs that I have run, though this was for only five miles rather than 26.2. I felt a twinge of desire to do one more MCM. But the logistics are daunting. Denise and I typically stay the night before and after the race in Arlington or Crystal City. Lodging, dining, and parking can quickly run over $1000. Denise is not a fan of the crowds on race day, and even I find them challenging, especially when I'm exhausted from a maximal effort. 

I've run three smaller marathons: the George Washington Birthday Marathon in Greenbelt, MD, the Wineglass Marathon in Corning, NY, and the now-defunct Frederick Marathon in Frederick, MD. Unlike many runners, I tend to be solitary in my training. I do not crowd support to do a marathon; sometimes, the cheering distracts me. My best memories of these races were when I was in the middle of nowhere in the fields, running alone or with a handful of other runners. Even for the MCM, my best recollections are all in the relatively remote Hains Point area. 

Denise cringes when I mention the MCM. So, I am considering an alternate, small marathon. I've let my pace slow too much since entering my 60s. It's getting to be time to pick that bar and strive to overcome it again. The Ocean City Marathon is small, flat, and probably fast. It's the leading candidate right now.