Why 12 Minutes?

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Yesterday, the Marine Corps Marathon announced a new maximum pace requirement of 12 minutes per mile, representing a reduction of two minutes per mile from what has historically been the guiding timeline. This decision was not easy but neither is the circumstance we all face with COVID 19.

Many other large events have cancelled but our Marine instinct is to lean in and fight for the possibility of hosting a live marathon in Arlington, VA on October 25, 2020. This means a major overhaul of how the MCM looks and operates so social distancing considerations may be incorporated.

In short, our working solution is to break the 45th MCM up into 24 waves that will start over an expanded window of time on event morning. This plan will necessitate a smaller field of in-person participants. Those in the late waves will have less time to Beat the Bridge. Twelve minutes per mile is the best we can offer at this time. It possibly might have to go even lower. This isn’t about your speed, it is about the access to the roads.

As this is the 45th MCM and, in celebration of this landmark year that coincides with the 75th anniversary of the battle at Iwo Jima, the MCM Organization has designed the most spectacular finisher medal perhaps ever. This year’s Eagle, Globe and Anchor finisher medal will feature actual volcanic ash collected at Iwo Jima. We couldn’t have imagined any other outcome to your running journey than a Marine placing this medal around your neck at the finish line.

Now, however, I’ve broadened my thinking. Marines get deployed. Marines change duty stations. Marines rotate billets. The life of a Marine necessitates flexibility and at its core is about change. So now, the runners must assume alternate duty stations for this year’s MCM run, but this doesn’t diminish one’s courage or commitment. You are the MCM no matter where you run, just as a Marine is a Marine wherever she or he serves. The medal you receive by mail will not just be a symbol of mission accomplished but also of resilience and perhaps may make you feel even more connected to the Corps.

I encourage runners to accept the opportunity to run virtually.

I empathize with those whose pace exceeds our new time standards but hope you too make the shift to virtual with pride.

We must reduce the size of the field for this plan to keep runners safe and to meet the expectations of local jurisdictions. While you may simply transfer from live to virtual and incur no additional fees, I want to see you run live with the Marines in 2021 and hope you will defer to maintain your access then re-up for the virtual. There are new costs for runners associated with these actions just as there are expenses for MCM operations, both live and virtual. These fees have made some runners unhappy but are necessary and as friendly as we can offer.

My promise to every runner is that if the MCM is ultimately cancelled this year, you will have access to a virtual entry.

Some runners have responded saying that the new time requirement is un-People’s Marathon. I think quite the opposite. We are protecting your right to run. We are protecting your safety. We are preserving a future together. Nothing we’ve ever done has been more in support of our identity of “The People’s Marathon” and nothing has been more Marine.

Here’s health to you and to our Corps, which we are proud to serve.

Semper Fidelis,

Rick Nealis and the MCM Organization