A pair of runners from the National Capital Region paced the field of 30,000 participants who embarked on a 26.2-mile course through Arlington, Va., and Washington, D.C., at the 42nd Marine Corps Marathon Oct. 22.
Desta Beriso Morkama of Arlington, Va., finished as the top male runner with a time of two hours, 25 minutes, 13 seconds. Sarah Bishop of Fairfax, Va., won the women’s division, finishing in two hours, 45 minutes, 6 seconds.
Morkama, 32, placed second at last year’s Marine Corps Marathon, but this year he beat men’s runner-up Wesley Turner of Danville, Va., by more than two and a half minutes.
He attributed his victory to a renewed commitment to training. “It’s a year I worked hard to win,” he said.
Kieran O’Connor of Arlington, Va., finished third in the men’s division.
Bishop, 35, was a late registrant for this year’s race, signing up on the spur of the moment nine days prior to the event. She ended up setting a personal record and missed qualifying for the Olympic marathon trials by just six seconds.
“I was hungry for the win today,” she said at the finish line. “I’m excited for what I ran today on this course on my home turf.”
The veteran marathoner said winning the Marine Corps Marathon holds special meaning for her due to the military ties that run through her family.
“I was in the Air Force for four years and my husband is active-duty, so this race means a lot to me,” Bishop said. “I always heard a lot about the Marine Corps Marathon growing up because my dad was active-duty Air Force too.”
Bishop credited the inspiration provided by the thousands of Marines, Sailors and civilian volunteers who worked to put on “The People’s Marathon,” as well as the throngs of spectators who lined the course.
“This race is amazing,” she said. “I’ve run quite a few marathons, and this one tops it all as far as spectatorship and the support of the race. It was so motivating the entire day.”
Marine Corps 2nd Lt. Shelby Morley was one of hundreds of Marines who stood along the course cheering and high-fiving runners as they passed.
“Today we’re motivating some of the runners and also helping out and representing the Marine Corps,” she said, adding that she hoped the marathon would give the public an opportunity to interact with Marines in an accessible setting that would show off lesser-seen aspects of the Corps’ missions.
“It shows that we’re here for the people more so than just in combat,” she remarked.
Currently stationed at Marine Barracks, Washington, D.C., Marine Corps Cpl. Erik Lloyd was assigned to a support role at the marathon each of the past three years, but this year, he took part as a runner, finishing in four hours, 40 minutes, just 10 minutes off his personal goal.
“It was awesome,” Lloyd said after his first-ever marathon. “It’s actually super motivating to run through a city that we work in and just with everybody and all the support, so it’s actually a really good time.”
Lloyd said he was pleased to see an abundance of camaraderie and esprit de corps throughout the day. “I think it gives insight into how the brotherhood is in the Marine Corps and within the military,” he observed.
After winning the men’s handcycle division in a course-record one hour, 10 minutes, 28 seconds, retired Army Staff Sgt. Freddie De Los Santos described his experience in similar terms.
“To come here and see your brothers and sisters in arms and be around them, it’s a great feeling,” he said. “I’m looking forward to next year.”
Pentagram staff photojournalist Francis Chung can be reached at email@example.com.