What is the Gauntlet?
The howitzer will fire at 7:55 a.m. officially sounding the start of the 44th Marine Corps Marathon. The MCM course will remain open until 3 p.m., or just over seven hours after gun time. All MCM participants must maintain a 14 minute-per-mile pace throughout the 26.2 miles with multiple timing benchmarks along the course to support pacing efforts and timeline requirements. These checkpoints are the two gauntlets and "Beat the Bridge."
The rear pace vehicle will display a clock and serve as a reference and a warning for those runners in proximity to this vehicle. Should a runner fall behind this vehicle, they may be rerouted or asked to board the straggler buses, vehicles that transport runners from the course directly to the Finish Festival.
These timelines are in place to maintain the safety of all participants and ensure the event meets the time requirements as dictated by jurisdictional permits. The pace requirements include:
- DC Gauntlet: At mile 17, MCM participants will reach “the DC Gauntlet” Those runners who do not make it through the DC Gauntlet by 12:33 p.m. will be diverted from the certified Marathon course to 14th Street at Independence Avenue and may continue running but will not complete the 26.2-mile course. These individuals will not be recognized as official finishers.
- Beat the Bridge: All MCM participants who have made it through the Gauntlet must still continue to maintain a 14 minute-per-mile pace to “Beat the Bridge.” This means reaching 14th & D Streets by 1:15 p.m., just before Mile Marker 20 of the MCM course. Even after this point, runners must continue to maintain a 14 minute-per-mile pace. After 1:15 p.m., the 14th Street Bridge will reopen to vehicular traffic making it unavailable to runners. Any runners unable to “Beat the Bridge” will be required to board straggler buses and be transported to the MCM Finish Festival in Rosslyn, VA.
- Crystal City Gauntlet: At mile 22, participants must enter Crystal City before 1:49 p.m. to continue the MCM. Just like the DC Gauntlet, those participants unable to make it to this final timing check point will be diverted from the certified course and may continue running but will not complete the entire 26.2 miles nor be considered an official finisher.
MCM50K participants have timing requirements, as well. 50K runners must maintain a pace of 12:30 minute-per-mile or faster.
At Mile 22 of the 50K, participants will reach "the Gauntlet" in the nation's capital. Those who do not make it through the Gauntlet by 12:33 p.m., the same time requirement as the MCM, will be diverted to 14th Street from the certified course at Independence Avenue and may continue running but will not complete the entire 50K course. As is the case with the MCM, these individuals will not be recognized as official finishers.
The second requirement is at the 14th Street Bridge. All MCM50K participants must reach the intersection of 14 and D Streets by 1:15 p.m. at Mile 25.
The “Crystal City Gauntlet” must be reached by 1:49 p.m. at Mile 27 of the 50K or participants will be diverted from the certified course at 12th Street South as it becomes Crystal Drive.
If diverted at any of these locations, participants may continue running but will not complete the official course and will not be recognized as official 50K finishers.
"This is part of the challenge that makes a marathon so monumental. You've got to conquer both, distance and time," said MCM Director Rick Nealis. "And then, that little hill at the end."