Evan Weisel of Springfield will be one of the veteran runners in today's Marine Corps Marathon, as nearly two-thirds of the 9,500 entrants will be competing in their first 26-mile, 385-yard race.

But for Weisel a 10-year-old fifth-grader who has run in two marathons in Germany, and has been running for six years, this race has great significance.

"This is the last race that I will be running with my father. In my last two, my father ran with me, but after this race, he's going to let me run in a marathon by myself."

His father Steve is an Army lieutenant colonel stationed here. He says he runs with his son, "because sometimes he will get so wrapped up in the race that he won't want to stop and drink water. I make sure he drinks and doesn't go out too quick -- things like that. I don't want to let him fend for himself in this large a crowd yet."

The course for the sixth annual Marine Corps race starts at the Iwo Jima Memorial, then goes to the Pentagon, into Georgetown, to the Lincoln Memorial, around the Capitol, into East Potomac Park and then back to the Iwo Jima Memorial. Starting time is 9 a.m.

It will be the largest participatory sporting event in Washington and the second-largest marathon in the United States, behind the New York Marathon that drew almost 15,000 competitors last week.