The Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C.

The Marine Corps Marathon (MCM), held annually in October in Washington DC, is a great way to see people from all over the world traveling to the US capital. Of course, all marathons attract runners from every corner of the globe – but the MCM somehow seems special. First, there are no qualifying thresholds, so anyone can enter and plenty of people do – as proven by the signs along the race course that challenge runners to beat the famous alumni in particular (“You can do better than Oprah!” – yes, she ran it and in pretty good time, too).

Second, because the race takes place in the nation’s capital, many runners want to be part of the excitement that comes in running past monuments, the White House, the Capitol building and along the Potomac River – it’s a well known city and one people want to see even if they are just spectators and not runners.

Third, there is an incredibly patriotic element to the race. It is hosted by the US Marines (guaranteeing it is done on time and without a glitch), and attracts many servicemen and women, both active and retired, both runners and wheelchair. At the end of the marathon – should you finish – a Marine puts the finisher’s medal around your neck while people of all different nationalities look on. Everywhere there are American flags, but also plenty of signs that there are plenty of travelers there – a runner in full Scottish kilt and bagpipe; Australian flags; oompah music from Germany; and lots of chatter in dozens of languages. I saw all of that this year – it was Chris’s third time running the MCM, which means it was my third time as pit and support crew (I’m getting better every year). And on Monday, when it’s over, at the airport, you can see runners flying home — or to their next marathon perhaps – to far flung places, proudly wearing their medal and being congratulated by everyone from gate attendants to TSA agents.

To the Marines, thank you for hosting and providing such a great event – that attracts people from all over the world for a unique kind of tourism. And to Chris – congratulations on sub-four, 3:57 to be exact!

Laura Flippin Washington DC

 

– Laura Flippin

 

Unexpected Pleasures

I know many of the hotels in my hometown of Washington, D.C. – not because I stay there; frankly I can’t tell you or any tourists that inquire of me which ones are the nicest to stay at.  As a local, I see mostly the public areas, generally restaurants, maybe the spa or cocktail lounge. To the degree there are “hidden gems” beyond that, you would be better off consulting Frommer’s or Fodor’s, or even TripAdvisor or Yelp.

Today, however, I’m at a place in Washington that I’ve seldom visited – the Jefferson Hotel on 16th Street – and early in the morning, after breakfast and before lunch.  Chris is running the Marine Corps Marathon on Sunday, and usually books a massage the day before that to relax and get in prep mode.  This year, we waited a bit late to book the massage at the usual place we both like, and so I had to do some research on alternative options.  The Jefferson came up for several reasons – it’s a beautiful hotel, it’s very quiet and rather small so you aren’t subject to hordes of runners crowding locker rooms and waiting areas, and the staff have a reputation for superb client service.

While I can’t speak to how the spa actually turned out – Chris is the one who gets the benefit of the Jefferson’s “couture massage” – I do know that the food at the hotel is excellent.  Plume – the signature restaurant – is wonderful, inspired by Jefferson and particularly his time in Paris as US Ambassador to France. Quill – the cocktail lounge – is charming as well.  And for more casual fare, today we are off to the Greenhouse – which is like a European solarium in a 19th century marble palace.  Food, what food?  Not even sure we will notice it amidst the beauty of the surroundings.

But today, the genuine find for me is the library – a room designed based on Jefferson’s own book room at Monticello.  It’s a cozy, wood-paneled room, with recessed shelves of books written by those who have been guests at the hotel.  Even more alluring is a nook with a table and deeply cushioned benches – modeled after Jefferson’s own bed nook in Monticello.  Except better – Jefferson’s Monticello nook has always struck me as intriguing but uncomfortable (even for the exceptionally tall, over 6 feet, Jefferson).  No air conditioning, basic bed, tight quarters and candlelight might make it quaint but it also won’t win you many stars in today’s Michelin guide.  On the other hand, the Jefferson Hotel’s version is next to a discrete coffee bar, plenty of space, and genteel staff who solicitously offer cocktails, sparkling water, or just a bit of history about Jefferson and the origins of the hotel. All without waiting in line without other tourists.

For more information, check out: http://www.jeffersondc.com/

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