When runners embark on the 2013 Marine Corps Marathon in late October, they will have a flatter course to traverse than they did the past six years.
On Tuesday, race organizers released the map for the 38th running of the marathon, which, most notably, does not include the 150-foot grade that challenged runners as they made their way around the Georgetown Reservoir. It’s a change veterans of the marathon like Fort Washington’s George Banker welcome.
“I won’t miss Reservoir Road. I will not stay awake at night wishing they bring it back,” said Banker, 63, who will run the Marine Corps Marathon for the 29th time this fall. “The average runner doesn’t like doing hills much anyway. Most don’t train on a lot of hills. If it were short and over with, it would be one thing, but that was just long enough to make you think about it.”
Instead of turning left on to Canal Road after crossing the Key Bridge, then following it up the hill and making a hairpin turn where it meets Reservoir Road, runners will turn right onto M Street, head through Georgetown and then enter Rock Creek Parkway. The course, which turns at Beach and Shoreham Road, will mark the first time the marathon has ventured that far north along Rock Creek Park since 2006.
Tami Faram, public relations coordinator for the marathon, explained that safety concerns about the congestion coming off the bridge and at the tight turn at the top of Canal Road led to removing that portion of the course.
“For the safety of all our participants — runners and both the wheelchair and hand-cycle participants as well — we wanted to rethink the course,” Faram said. “To find a way to keep the major section in Georgetown still available to all the runners and spectators while eliminating that [segment] for safety reasons.”
There is another slight alteration to the course that will take runners up Third Street to Constitution Avenue before crossing in front of the U.S. Capitol that was needed to ensure the marathon was still a 26.2-mile course.
This year’s Marine Corps Marathon, which will be held Oct. 27, sold out in a record 2 hours 27 minutes. While a different course awaits those participants, it’s unlikely the adjustments will have a profound affect on the times.
“Any time you can knock out some hills it’s a good thing,” said two-time winner of the Marine Corps Marathon Jim Hage, who previously covered running for The Post. “It’s not going to make the course super fast or anything. The course record has been 2:14:01 since 1987. But it will make it more pleasant for everybody.”