| "This day is call'd the feast of Crispian!" |
It's the 600th anniversary of the Battle of Agincourt, where an outnumbered English army under King Henry V met the French. In pre-dawn darkness, an hour before the 40th Marine Corps Marathon, Drs Kerry and Kristin stand in a crowd of thousands, waiting to get through the metal detectors so we can find our way to the starting line. Today is K&K's first marathon.
And somehow in the mass of runners Anton Struntz spies us. He's an ultra-buddy, a fellow-traveler in long races for the past decade, an Ironman, and a historical reenactment lecturer.
"He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
|Anton and I recite in chorus most of the famous speech from Shakespeare's Henry V, to the amusement of Kerry and Kristin. When I miss a few lines, Anton corrects me. He knows it in the original Elizabethan English, which sounds rather like Scottish.|
"We few, we happy few, we band of brothers. ..."
Eventually the Marines let us through the security checkpoint. Light drizzle pauses, then begins again. The color guard prepares for pre-race ceremonies. Parachutists with giant American flags descend from cloudy skies.
"But if it be a sin to covet honour,
|And what a day of honour it is! The race is a beautiful icing on the cake of six months' training together.|
"ADVENTURE", reads the plinth of the John Ericsson National Memorial at mile 10. K&K pose, appropriately.
|Along the way there's hard effort, silly signage, more photo ops, fist-bumps from enthusiastic bystanders, and much joy. Approaching the halfway mark near the tip of Hanes Point we run a quiet mile past signs commemorating fallen soldiers. Then there's an avenue of flags waved by cheering volunteers.|
On the 14th Street Bridge over the Potomac River, safely ahead of the crucial cutoff, K&K stretch tight muscles.
|At mile 26 Kerry's husband Clay and daughter Ellie join us. We pause before charging up the final hill.|
Kerry's Embry-Riddle University shirt — her son is a freshman there — elicits almost as many shout-outs as does my beard. This years best spectator salute to excessive facial hair comes at mile 25: "Fear the Beard!"
|"Congratulations, Ma'am," says the young marine to Kristin at the finish line, as he looks her in the eye and puts the medal around her neck.|
Then he salutes. "Mission accomplished!"
(GPS trackfile) - ^z - 2015-11-09