ARLINGTON, Va. — More than 30,000 men and women from all over the world gathered between the Pentagon and Arlington National Cemetery on the rainy dawn of Oct. 25 to run in the 40th Marine Corps Marathon.
The participants hope to join the 512,370 runners who have completed the marathon of the monuments since its inaugural event in 1976.
After the blast of the Howitzer, the procession of runners passed under the starting arches as doves were released into the overcast skies. As runners just started their 26.2-mile trek, Jack Dasilva, the winner of the Marine Corps Marathon10K, which started simultaneously in the National Mall among the monuments, began to approach the finish line.
“A friend of mine said, ‘We should run more races,’” Dasilva said, “I signed up, and it closed before he had a chance.”
He finished the 10-kilometer race in a little over 34 minutes.
“I was in a pack of about six people. It started thinning out at about the three-and-half mile mark,” Dasilva said. “I decided to kick it in to get ahead of another runner and just held on until the end.”
As 10k finishers began to cross the finish line, the fastest of the marathoners were passing the 25-kilometer point. Waiting for each finisher at the end was a Marine Corps lieutenant ready to hand him or her a 2015 Marine Corps Marathon medal, and a 3-D ruby Eagle, Globe and Anchor symbolizing the event’s 40th anniversary.
The first participants to wear this medal were the top male and female hand cyclists Freddie De Los Santos, with a time of 1:13 and Tammy Landean, at 1:58.
The first male and female competitors to complete the ruby anniversary run were Trevor Lafontaine, running for the Army team with a time of 2:24, and Jenny Mendez Suarez, a native of Costa Rica, with a completion time of 2:45.
“It was my first marathon, and it is awesome to be the Marine Corps Marathon champion,” said Lafontaine, a recent West Point graduate. “It was a tough course.
“It takes up a lot of time to train, but this is an awesome experience,” he said.
Gen. Robert Neller, the 37th Commandant of the Marine Corps, presented the top three male and female competitors their awards. Each runner received his or her medal, a wreath that was made in Marathon, Greece, and a trophy.
“This was my first international marathon, and it was a privilege to run with the Marines,” said Mendez Suarez. “The weather was great, a little colder than home, but it was a great run.”
Every competitor came to the starting with a story and reason to run. That fire each runner had is represented by the ruby symbol for forty years of competitors and volunteers meeting the challenge of making the Marine Corps Marathon.