The window for entering the 25th Marine Corps Marathon doesn't open until Feb. 1, 2000. But if you're interested in running, keep some stamps or a modem handy.

Washington's increasingly popular marathon, scheduled for Oct. 22 next year, likely will reach its capacity quickly. "Our goal is not to fill the race in three weeks, then sit around with nothing to do for six months," race director Rick Nealis said. "But we could."

This year's marathon closed March 1. If organizers move the start/finish area to the Mall, the field could expand by several thousand runners as part of a silver anniversary celebration.

The traditional start/finish area is the Marine Corps Memorial in Arlington. But the proposed construction of an Air Force memorial at the same site spurred consideration of a move to the Mall, perhaps permanently. "On the Mall, we could grow to whatever we wanted to handle logistically," Nealis said.

"We'll mail out applications to everyone who runs this year sometime in December, probably do a second, smaller mailing, and begin accepting checks February 1st, the same day online registration opens," Nealis said.

After that, it's Katie bar the door.

How to Enter

The Marines will begin accepting applications for the 2000 marathon on Feb. 1. You may request an application at 1-800-RUN-USMC, or enter the race online at

www.marinemarathon.com