What is the sound of one hand clapping?
Just ask any one of 6,473 runners in yesterday's Marine Corps Marathon who were greeted with an almost Zen-like silence.
Washington, they say, just isn't New York and yesterday told why. Two weeks ago, New York, a people city, was out in force -- 2 million strong -- for its marathon.
Yesterday, Washington, a town of institutions and monuments, slept late.
Even M Street in Georgetown, which is never quiet especially at 10 a.m., was ghostly.
"I think the runners outnumbered the spectators," said one marathoner. "And most of them were related."
Not everyone minded the solitude. "It didn't bother me at all," said Navy Lt. Phil Camp, who won the 26-mile, 385-yard race in 2 hours 19 minutes 35 seconds.
"I enjoy it quiet. When people start yelling at me, it tightens me up, except at the finish."
Camp, of Pensacola, Fla., became the first military man to win the race in its four-year history. Joanna Yundt Martin, a Marine lieutenant from Woodbridge, was the first woman finisher with a 2:58:15 clocking.
Did Camp relish whipping the Marines? "No," he said. "Some of my best friends are marines. My boss is a marine. In flight training school, we have instrustors from both the Navy and Marines. We're all in the same family. I'm running with them, not against them."
Yesterday, he was running with the sponsorship of the Navy, which paid his way north from his station in Pensacola, Fla. But, Camp, who used to train by running laps aboard aircraft carriers, doesn't want any special favors from the Navy. "I'm a professional Navy man first and a runner second. I try to take what I need but I have to do my job first.
"I'm proud to be in the Navy, to represent it here and win the race but I don't ask for any special time to train."
Marathon facts: The Marines, who say the race cost $60,000, purchased 698 gallons of beer, 8,000 tin foil space blankets, 42,000 safety pins, 5,500 pounds of ice, and 235,000 cups.
Last year, where there were cups (they were squishy), there was no water. This year, there was plenty of both. Marines in fatigues stood, like waiters, holding out trays of water as runners passed by.
Lt. Martin, the women's champion, said, "It was really well-organized this year. They seemed to have worked out all the problems they got blamed for last year, the shortages of water and not enough port-o-potties. They even got outstanding weather." As if they ordered it.
joanna Martin was not the only Martin in the race. Larry Martin, her husband, who happens to be a marine, an impact control officer at Camp Pendleton, finished in 2:44.
Joanna Martin ran her first marathon here in 1977. She enjoyed it so much she gave up running for the next 13 months. Why did she take up running to begin with?
"He was in Okinawa," she said, nodding in her husband's direction. "I didn't have anything else to do."
Whenever you start to get disgusted with running, and runners, and their injuries, and their times, think of Peter Strudwick, Harry Cordellos and Ken Archer.
Peter Strudwick, 49, from Buena Park, Calif., has no feet. Wearing special shoes he finished in 4:24:34.
Harry Cordellos is blind. Running with a partner, he finisned in 2:57:53, using voice contact and occasional brushing of arms to guide him to his personal best. Cordellos, 41, a native of San Francisco, has run 50 marathons since 1970. This was not the best course, he said. "It was a little slow. Too many railroad tracks, too many curbs. A highway run with no junk in the way is the best."
Ken Archer, 30, from Akron, Ohio, won the wheelchair division. He finished in 2:53, not his best time (2:22). But, he said, it was his fifth marathon this year, he is not in very good shape, he's been sick, and his wife is at home expecting a baby.
Archer, who won the wheelchair division of the Boston Marathon this year with a 2:38 ("It was raining") said this course was not particularly easy either. Though most runners will not go home talking about Capitol Hill the way they leave Boston thinking ot Heartbreak Hill, Archer said, "There's lots of hills here, lots of turns. The last hill was tough."
Runner No. 1775 stood at the finish line looking bored. He is, after all, a dog, but not any dog. He's the mkascot of the Marine Barracks.
Chesty VI's number 1775 is the year the corps was founded. "Chesty ran the dog leg well," said his keeper Gunnery Sgt. Joseph Naradzay, holding firmly onto the leash. "But I didn't tell him his times. He'd probally be too depressed if he found out."
Actually, Naradzay was only fooling. Chesty never got across the starting line. But then, few in Washington were around to notice anyway.