The Marines are looking as always for a few good men -- or women. But this time they're more selective than usual. The men or women they're seeking must be legal residents of Iowa.
Sunday is the 10th running of the Marine Marathon. When the official deadline passed for applications, it was discovered that the 10,777 entrants came from a lot of places around the world along with 49 American states -- every state except, for some inexplicable reason, Iowa.
If there is an Iowa runner who wants to rescue his or her state's honor, call the Washington law office of reserve Lt. Col. Herbert Harmon today. He promises to sneak you into the 26.2-mile race. His number is 783-9100.
The marathon's sponsors also are hoping that the single certified runners from four states -- Alaska, Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota -- show up for the 9 a.m. start at the Iwo Jima Memorial in Arlington to make it at least a 49-state event. (The most runners, 2,869, are from Virginia, followed by 1,743 from Maryland, 1,038 from New York and 1,018 from Pennsylvania. The District is next with 592 entrants.)
Occupationally, the entrants range from 1,996 military personnel -- including Navy Lt. Julia R. Santora, who is seven months pregnant -- down to one dental assistant and one lumberjack. Among those in between are 514 engineers, 125 housewives, 151 bankers, 15 veterinarians, two oceanographers, three elementary school students, two sports professionals (Redskins general manager Bobby Beathard's category, one presumes) and three described inconclusively as VIPs.
Of the runners, 138 are age 60 and above, ranging up to 78-year-old Ed W. Benham. The Marine Corps said 34 foreign countries are represented, but that statistic is suspect: Puerto Rico, an American commonwealth with two entrants, is included among the foreigners, as are the Virgin Islands (partly U.S. territory) with one. There's even a single entrant listed from a nonexistent country (though nobody will deny it's an icy continental mass): Antarctica. Perhaps he's Opus, the anthropomorphic penguin from the Bloom County comic strip.
*Thursday was a big day for Benjamin Tasker Middle School in Bowie. About 80 educators attending the National Middle School Conference in Baltimore paid a visit. Tasker was the only Prince George's school so honored; others visited were in northern Anne Arundel and Baltimore counties.
Sue Goodall, a counselor at Tasker (which is named for an early settler in the region), said no special programs were arranged and the students took the visit in stride. Principal Nancy McClelland called the selection of Tasker "quite an honor."