Competitors run near the Capitol in the 2009 Marine Corps Marathon. (Reuters)

When the starting gun sounds, 30,000 runners will begin a 26.2-mile trek that starts just south of the Arlington Cemetery Metro station along Jefferson Davis Highway. From there, the course heads west (and sharply uphill) along Lee Highway before doubling back toward the Key Bridge. Then it’s northwest along Canal Road to Palisades before snaking back through the District: Georgetown, the Tidal Basin, the National Mall and East Potomac Park.

Exhausted yet? Good, because there are still five miles to go, across the 14th Street Bridge and through Crystal City before finishing with an uphill climb to the finish line at the Marine Corps Memorial. Check out the course map.

Where to watch and how to get around

If you’re cheering on a runner, the race organizers recommend five possible viewing location. The GOG’s Anne Kenderdine (who ran Marine Corps the same year as Al Gore!) recommends grabbing a spot on the National Mall. Mile markers 15 and 20, for example, are just south of the grassy patch across 15th Street SW from the Holocaust Museum. Keep in mind that with Metro closures and single-tracking all over the system this weekend, your best bet for getting from one vantage point to the next is either on foot, by bike or by using Capital Bikeshare.

Okay, now the important stuff: Where do I carb up?

If you’re running the race yourself, you may want plenty of carbs the night before the race to steel your system for the punishment you’re about to inflict upon it. If you’re supporting one of these runners, it’s important to, um, provide moral support by also downing copious carbs. Our Editors’ Picks list for best runner’s chow will give you the leg up on the competition.

I finished the race. What do I do now?

Crack open a beer, of course. You’ve earned it. Best of luck to all competitors on Sunday.

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