Running seems to be sweeping through the military spouse community.
Between those who were already runners before the military life and those who joined through running clubs, like Stroller Warriors, there are a ton of us hitting the pavement.
Running is even better when you can pair it with a race that directly benefits and supports our Armed Forces!
In this spirit, here are 8 of the best military racing events for military spouses.
I apologize in advance for the Marine Corps heaviness of this list, but when you do something right…
This iconic marathon, held each year in late October, starts next to the Pentagon and ends at the Marine Corps Memorial. Dubbed The People’s Marathon, it has become so popular that it now uses a lottery system to be more equitable. (The 2016 lottery opens March 24.)
Along the 26.2-mile route, runners pass Arlington National Cemetery, the National Mall and monuments, and run underneath the beautiful fall foliage of Arlington, Va. On Haine’s Point, there is usually a mile of memory that honors service members who have been killed in action.
At the finish, a Marine lieutenant will place the medal around your neck. Just try to get through the Marine Corps Marathon without tears.
Held 2 weekends before the Marine Corps Marathon, many marathoners run this as a tune-up for MCM.
The course is basically the same, but MUCH shorter and with some deviations closer to Georgetown and near the Smithsonian Institution Building (The Castle). What makes the Army Ten-Miler unique is the absence of a finishers medal. Instead, runners receive a challenge coin.
Navy-Air Force Half Marathon and Navy 5-Miler
Another D.C.-area race, this one goes off in late September with a start/finish line adjacent to the Washington Monument. The Navy-Air Force half was voted “One of the Year’s Best Half-Marathons” by Runner’s World.
This race takes place in northern Virginia. Fredericksburg was the childhood home of George Washington and the site of a major Civil War battlefield. It is also a hop, skip and jump away from the crossroads of the Marine Corps in Quantico.
This race is popular because it is part of the MCM series and offers guaranteed entry into the Marine Corps Marathon. This race route is super hilly, with a notorious climb at Hospital Hill.
This race started in 1997 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Air Force. Run in Dayton, Ohio, this race weekend offers full, half marathon, 10K and 5K events. It starts and finishes next to the National Museum of the Air Force and loops around the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.
This race makes the list because of the sweet medal. Each year, a different aircraft is chosen to highlight on the medal. Plus, the Air Force Marathon is a Boston Marathon qualifier.
This smaller, shorter race is run at the same time as the MCM, but starts at the National Mall and follows the last 6.2 miles of the Marine Corps Marathon.
This is a nice intro into the MCM series, without the crazy hill of the Historic Half or the grueling mileage of the full marathon.
Plus, you still get the medal from a Marine at the finish and access to the post-race celebration in Rosslyn. And you might beat out the crazy taxi and metro lines!
On-Base Race series
Almost every base has a race series of some sort, from motivational runs to early morning 5Ks organized by MWR.
Some the best races are (not shockingly) organized at USMC bases. Camp Pendleton hosts the Hard Corps Race Series, which includes road, trail, bike and triathlon events. The Heartbreak Hill Half is supposed to be amazing!
Also in sunny SoCal, the MCRD San Diego has the Bootcamp Challenge: competitors complete real boot camp fitness and obstacle tests.
Camp Lejeune offers the Grand Prix, which is advertised as allowing civilians to compete with real Marines and use actual training locations.
Chances are, your base offers some sort of running series too! Stop by your military installation’s fitness center for more information.
This is a run that can happen anywhere in the world. The Travis Manion 9/11 Heroes 5K Runs are locally organized and happen each year on or around September 11. An interactive map helps racers find a location near them or provides information about starting their own race.
It doesn’t get much better than this: a run dedicated to honoring selfless service and sacrifice organized by motivated community members, helping local veterans, military members, first responders and military families.