On Saturday afternoon, 220 Annapolis residents had their fingers crossed hoping beyond hope that the meteorologists were right and the storm that had been dumping a wintery mix on the area for most of the day really would pass.
By Sunday morning, these 220 had breathed a sigh of relief and were heading into Washington, DC, to run the 36th Marine Corps Marathon.
The weather, though chilly by most accounts, was perfect for a morning spent running 26.2 miles through the streets of the city.
“The weather could have been a little warmer at 4 a.m., but by race time I was ready to shed the extra clothing I had on,” said Noreen Leary, who was running her fifth marathon.
Leary was not alone in shedding her clothes as she ran. This is one of many tips local runners learn from more experienced runners in the Annapolis area.
Because of the number of marathon training programs offered at local running stores and through local clubs, Annapolis marathoners are well prepared when they head into the city on marathon morning.
Susan Noble and Robert Cawood, coaches for the Annapolis Striders’ Moore’s Marines Marathon program, have been answering questions for many of their runners since July when this year’s training began.
Suzanne Strong who ran the marathon on Sunday and trained with the Moore’s Marines throughout the summer said there were a lot of high points during the marathon but, she said the best part of the 18 weeks of training leading up to the race was, “having Susan and Bob as coaches, who organize such an amazing group of runners and get us to connect with one another.”
Noble said that most of the runners who come out to run the training program’s weekly group runs find friendship along the way. She said she believes it is this camaraderie that brings runners back year after year.
For Karen and Kevin Reio, the camaraderie was an important part of training but an even more important part of race day. The husband and wife members of Moore’s Marines completed their first marathon on Sunday running side by side the whole way.
“It was our first marathon and it was amazing,” Kevin said. “People of all different shapes and sizes, young and old were there all for their own reasons—some in memory of a family member, others supporting our troops.”
Asked what the low points were in the race, Karen found it hard to answer.
“We did not even hit the ‘wall’—too much energy,” Karen said. “Not only was there energy from the large number of runners, but also from the crowds.”
To add to the energy, the Annapolis Striders greeted runners at mile 22 with noise makers, Advil, pretzels, candy and animal crackers. This support table has become a staple at the Marine Marathon and one that local runners have come to expect.
“The support at the Striders’ table was great," Strong said. "There is lots of cheering as you are running towards them and plenty of animal crackers to help me through those last few miles.”
But the real joy for each and every runner who completed the race was summed up best by Karen Reio: “The best part was crossing the finish line and knowing that we did it—we completed 26.2 miles.”