(Updated at 3:30 p.m.) Arlington County has stepped up to play a bigger role in this year’s Marine Corps Marathon after Metro’s SafeTrack work prompted big changes.
As a result of SafeTrack, Metro has stopped extending its hours for special events. Whereas the Metrorail system previously opened at 5 a.m. on marathon day, this year it will open at 7 a.m., less than an hour before runners are set to cross the starting line near Rosslyn.
At a press conference this afternoon at Rosslyn’s Spectrum Theater, marathon officials said this presented a major challenge. Metro has been a primary means for runners getting to the marathon, but due to “strict and unchanged timelines, dictated from the various jurisdictions through which the course runs,” officials were unable to push the start time back.
Those in Arlington or driving to Arlington will now be able to park at the Ballston mall garage and take an ART 42 bus to the runners village area near the Pentagon; the buses will start running at 5 a.m. More options: free parking in the garage at 23rd and Crystal Drive in Crystal City, with shuttles running to the runners village, or paid parking in Pentagon City.
Shuttles will also run from the Reagan building in D.C. and from the Gaylord, the official Marine Corps Marathon hotel at National Harbor. Officials encouraged runners to stay at hotels in National Harbor or Arlington, if possible.
Should runners arrive late and not make it through security until a bit after the 7:55 a.m. start, they won’t have to rush: the starting line will be kept open until 8:55 a.m. this year, about 40 minutes longer than usual, according to MCM marketing manager Marc Goldman.
To make sure runners can “beat the bridge” — make a mid-race cut-off point in time — the course is being extended in Arlington. At the beginning of the race, there will be an extra portion of course along N. Kirkwood Road, before runners head down the Spout Run Parkway. Later in the race, three extra blocks have been added to the Crystal Drive stretch through Crystal City, and an additional portion has been added around the Pentagon south parking lot, Goldman said.
The long stretch up and down the Rock Creek Parkway in D.C., meanwhile, has been shortened.
Additionally, the start of the MCM 10K race has been moved from the National Mall to the Pentagon parking lot. The 10K will now take place entirely in Arlington, to keep 10K runners from coming into conflict with marathoners.
Metro, for its part, says it will add extra 8-car trains to the Blue and Yellow lines when it does open on marathon day.
Marathon officials thanked Arlington County for helping to accommodate the changes to this year’s race. They also thanked race participants.
“Thank you to the runners for their patience while we untangle and address these challenges,” Goldman said.
The Marine Corps Marathon will take place on Sunday, Oct. 30; as usual, it will start and end near Rosslyn. The full press release about the changes is available here.
— Adam Tuss (@AdamTuss) August 31, 2016