With Gen. James Amos, commandant of the Marine Corps, on hand to greet them as they crossed the finish line, active-duty servicemembers locked down the medalist positions in the female division of the 38th Marine Corps Marathon run in and around Washington, D.C., on Sunday in ideal weather conditions -- clear skies, cool temperatures and little wind.
Finishing in the lead was Army Capt. Kelly Calway, 29, of Manitou Springs, Colo, who ran the 26.2-mile course in 2:42:17. In second place was Navy Lt. Gina Slaby, 32, of Virginia Beach, Va., who finished at 2:48:04. And taking third place was Air Force Senior Airman Emily Shertzer, 33, of Jonestown, Penn., who clocked in at 2:48:08.
“I deploy in less than two weeks, so I wanted to make sure I ran a good race before I shipped out,” Calway said at the finish line. “Most of my unit is already over there so I had to win it for them, otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to show up over there.”
The top military finisher in the men’s division was Coast Guard Lt. Patrick Fernandez, 26, of Alexandria, Va., who took second place honors after running the marathon in 2:22:52, just over a minute behind winner Girma Bedada of Ethiopia. Bedada’s time of 2:21:32 was well off the marathon's record pace of 2:14:01 set in 1987 by Jeff Scuffins of Hagerstown, Md.
The event’s opening ceremonies featured an 11-member skydiving team carrying a 7,800-square-foot American flag, the largest flag to be included in a performance jump. Among the jumpers was Staff Sgt. James Sides of Gainesville, Fla., an explosive ordnance disposal tech who lost his right hand and left eye after he was wounded a year ago in Afghanistan by an improvised explosive device.
Also among the skydivers jumping in before the race’s start was retired Army Sgt. 1st Class Dana Bowman, the Army Special Forces veteran who lost both legs in a midair collision with a teammate while a member of the elite Golden Knight Parachute team. He later became the first double amputee to re-enlist in the Army.
The Marine Corps Marathon has earned the nickname of “the people’s marathon” and has traditionally been a platform for runners to dedicate their efforts to fallen comrades. This year’s dedications included that of Navy Lt. Alexandra Bailly of Washington, D.C. -- a first-time marathoner -- who organized a team of Navy Yard co-workers to honor their colleagues killed during the tragic shootings there Sept. 16.
After a slight delay for a final security sweep, the race commenced with the blast of a howitzer, and it took nearly 25 minutes for the entire field of 30,000 runners to make it through the start line archway near Arlington Memorial Cemetery. The course was flatter than previous years but still guided participants through the heart of Washington, D.C., across the Potomac, past the Pentagon on the homestretch, and up a last painful hill to the finish near the Iwo Jima Monument in Rosslyn, Va. This year’s race had 23,480 finishers.
The 38th Marine Corps Marathon weathered the threat of cancellation as a result of the government shutdown that closed parks in the weeks leading up to the race. The marathon is the third largest in the United States and the eighth largest in the world.