Marine Corps Marathon Time-lapse and Photos

There’s no bigger race in Washington DC than the Marine Corps Marathon, and – in the case of this weekend, no better weather than today’s for the race.

The Girl and I headed out before sunrise to stake out our spot for another one of my time-lapse, similar to the Army 10-Miler one from last year.  My goal was to get the entire race in the picture – from the very first lead runner to the very last one.  So naturally, the best place to do that is shortly after the start – just a few hundred meters up the road.  I’d set the camera to take a photo every second and then just let it cruise, clicking away.  After over 1,300 photos, a near-video like composite comes together.

So – without further ado – here’s the time-lapse:

35th Annual Marine Corps Marathon Timelapse Video

Of course, while I had one camera working on the time-lapse (an older one)…


…I had my regular camera to take pictures of all the folks going by – and boy where there quite a few interesting ones.

Of course, I can’t start with the people photos without starting with the first racer.  This guy had a solid lead on the ‘lead pack’, but I’m fairly certain it didn’t last long (otherwise the lead pack wouldn’t have let him get out there).  Plus, a few miles later he was nowhere to be found:


Once those guys went by, the masses started rolling through quickly.  I like the guy below – checking his watch.  Don’t worry man – I’m fairly certain it still shows 26 miles to go, you haven’t even taken care of that .2 miles yet.


Yes…there’s a LOT of people. While the above time-lapse takes less than 60 seconds to watch, in reality, it was over to 30 minutes.


The fact that this guy below was superman didn’t differentiate him from his friends in the pee-stop 200m into the race.


There’s confusion…and then there’s this guy.  Given the lack of bib, he looks like he’s rather bewildered at how he was out trick or treating and then the next second ended up running with 30,000 people.


There may be 30,000 runners, and another few thousand worth of spectators…but that doesn’t mean this guy below wants to hear any of them.  It’s the sound of silence for him.  Well…unless Wonder Women there to the right takes him out.


Of course, while there are plenty of ‘runner-only’ folks out there, there’s also a number of triathletes, like these folks from Team-Z:


Or perhaps this Ironman Louisville competitor:


It takes special dedication to run as a hot dog…with mustard.  A clear and unwavering allegiance to the beef and bun.


Speaking of unwavering – there are numerous Marines and other Active Duty military folks running and walking the event, more about that though in a minute.


Oh…btw…people are still streaming by:


So many people that even Peter Pan and Tinkerbelle showed up:


And a trio of lobsters:


And even SpongeBob Square Pants:


Soon it was time to leave my spot as the last runners went by, followed by the Marines marching by, bringing up the rear:


Though I suppose that the true-rear was being brought up by these Marines below cleaning up the spare clothing tossed at the start:


After I was set near the start I crossed over the bridge and into the district, just in time to watch the leaders go by and then a bit later the masses start to fill in the roadway:


After another bit of time the leaders came back by Lincoln where I was standing.  Amazing to look at their running form:


Even the second pack had amazing form, the guy to the far left there being one who ran in the Beijing 2008 Olympic Trials:


But, it’s honestly a bit more fun to watch everyone else come on by:


It’s also amazing how many folks are wearing Garmin watches.  In this picture below, almost every person except the two closest to the camera are wearing a Garmin from what I can tell.


As much as you watch the time on your watch, just don’t get picked up by the SAG bus!  Though none of these folks had anything to worry about.


If you need a pickup though – this high school band will take care of you:


Though, some folks don’t need a band to remind them why they’re running.  The man’s shirt below is sadly quite common at both the Army 10 Miler and Marine Corps Marathon.  I remember multiple occasions seeing shirts with dates of those Killed in Action mere weeks prior to the race.  Often times labeled with not only the soldiers rank/unit, but also simple descriptors such as: Brother, Son, Husband.  Very sad, but also helps to bring in focus some of the losses that don’t make the evening news.


It’s also quite common for Marines (and other armed branches) to carry either American Flags or service flags:


Meanwhile, you continue to find more Ironman racers out there:


And, if the real Washington Monument wasn’t enough, you’ve got a little mini-monument to the left there:


Last but not least we headed near the Smithsonian Metro station for a brief time before finally calling it a day, after a number of hours of cheering.


Oh – did I mention I did this all in my Travelocity Travelling Gnome costume?  Sorry, only have a picture from last night, but it’ll work:


Hope you enjoyed the pictures, and thanks for reading!


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  1. Hilarious! I”m amazed that people can finish a full marathon in costume. How do they do that?

  2. Shane W

    By “WWF lady” do you mean Wonder Woman? Sorry, comic book dork here.

  3. Awesome post! I love the time lapse video.

  4. Dan M.

    Was that your soon to be wife who made an appearance (in costume) in the time lapse about half way through?

    Another question, did you use the iphone app to track any runners during the day? I’m wondering because I’m running NYC and my wife will be using the app to track me. We wanted to know how accurate it was or how much delay there is.


  5. Great post. Fantastic pictures. I really loved the time lapse section. Keep up the great work. As for the Garmin clad group, I never run without my 305.

  6. Whatever you do, do NOT use the app for tracking purposes. Not ONE person I know got this thing to work it was a complete piece of junk. They got over 60 1-star reviews on iTunes and the app was subsequently pulled from the iTunes store. Check out the RaceMate Facebook page for more information, lots and lots of furious people.

    And not so much mad at them as mad at MCM. MCM pushed this app as THE way to track people – especially after they decided to not pursue their texting service anymore.

  7. Awesome pics, awesome captions :)

  8. Great pics, and the timelapse is a great idea. Amazing how many people compete in the big races.

  9. Great pictures! There was a lot more costumes than I thought I would ever see in a marathon. Some of those costumes could lead to some serious chafing problems.

  10. I great combo of my two favorite things, running & photography. I’d love to run this one someday.

  11. Awesome photos as always!

  12. Bob

    Awesome time lapse! I like the guy in the ghillie suit.

  13. Great pics, live the Ghillie suite runner…toasty!

    And the other military folks look like brits looking at the DPM pattern on their pants

  14. I love your site.

    I’m a runner from Denmark and I plan in 2015 to run either MCM in Washington, Boston or NY Marathon but I need some help to decide on which. The best would of course be to find a runner who’d run them all but I haven’t been able to find such a person.

    I’m travelling together with my wife and two daughters and we want to explore the area Boston/NY/Washington for a period of 3 weeks where I run the marathon the first week.

    Personally I would find it easier to plan a marathon training for a autumn race as the Danish winters might obstruct a proper training though the snow hasn’t stopped me this season, and on the other hand I did run a marathon as early as March last year.

    I would love to hear any views so don’t hesitate to comment!

    • DC Rainmaker

      I’ve run Boston and DC, but not NYC. Though, I have lots of friends that have done all three.

      They are different courses. First, you have to qualify for Boston – so if you don’t have a qualifying time, you’re (mostly) out of luck there.

      On NYC or WashDC, again, very different. NYC is hillier, and will far more people along the sidelines. Whereas WashDC is flatter, but you get to pass all of the main WashDC sights. And the Marines aspect of it can be inspiring.

  15. I’m only 1 minute and 56 seconds away from the qualification time at Boston but I aim for a sub3 at Berlin if I succeed in doing so I’m 10 minutes below the qualifying time. If not I turn 40 in 2 years time and then I just have to keep my present time.

    Because of the fact that you have to qualify for the Boston race I had at first only my eyes on. It would be great to participate in a race that only open for the top 5% runners.

    Please tell me more about the Boston and MCM races. Pro’s and con’s. And is it at MCM that they cheer “take the hill”?

    • DC Rainmaker

      Both MCM and Boston have significant hills towards the ends. Boston’s is more impactful (far longer, at a more meaningful point in the race), whereas MCM’s is just the last 200-400m – and realistically most folks don’t even think about it, since the finish is so close. Crowds are big on both.

      If given the opportunity, you should really do Boston.