Sunday, October 30, 2011

Report from MCM Forward–ISAF Division

Today Marines all over the planet are participating in a tradition that is almost as sacred as the Marine Corps Birthday Ball. That tradition is the Marine Corps Marathon.  Here at Headquarters International Security Assistance Forces, Kabul, Afghanistan the tradition is carried forward with pride.

Twenty two runners from the different nations and services here at ISAF registered for the twenty six plus mile run inside the compound. Marine Corps four star General John Allen, Commander ISAF addressed the runners just prior to the playing of the US National Anthem and posing for group photos.


As noted by General Allen, the thirty five year old Marine Corps Marathon is the fifth largest marathon in the United States and the ninth largest race in the world. The MCM is THE largest marathon that awards no cash prizes. That little factoid didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of the racers waiting for the starting whistle.

Several participants were running for charity, one being the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors. The man ran in memory of Major Doug Zembiec, USMC who was killed 11 May 2007 while leading a raid in Baghdad, Iraq.



The first MCM Forward was held in 2006 at Al Asad Airbase which hosted 109 finishers. MCM Forward is the name given to any Marine Corp Marathon event held outside of the United States.

Annually the MCM registers 30,000 participants.

While the participants here at ISAF will make up just a small fraction of the overall number of runners in this year’s MCM, these twenty two racers run for the same feeling of accomplishment and pride of service and country that motivate all the others.


  1. I've never heard of this marathon prior to your post. Thank you!! I have to ask many laps around your compound does it take to run 26 miles?

    Excellent post, as always.

  2. This is such a terrific idea! I loved running with Marines - when I was prepping for the L.A. Marathon in 2000, I ran a half-marathon. There was a knot of Marines, oh, probably 20 of them, who ran in formation. It was easy to fall into their rhythm - until they sped up, lol.

    Great post. Thanks so much!

  3. Hi Christine; yes, Marines love to run in formation. I don't think I've ever seen a road race where there was a Marine detachment nearby that DIDN'T have a unit running, in PT's and carrying a guide-on. The first time I remember seeing Marines run like that, other than on base, was the Cooper River Road Race in Charleston, S.C. I know there is at least one unit that runs the Peachtree in Atlanta every year. I'm sure it's a great help for them and for the runners around them when they attack Cardiac Hill.

  4. Wow, what a great idea! 30, 000 that would be a sight!

  5. That's a very wonderful tradition. I'm glad they are still upholding it. Thanks for letting us know.

  6. There's a lot to be said for tradition. Thank you, John, for sharing information about this heart-felt tradition.
    Many Blessings! - Rain

  7. That's a wonderful way to remember a fallen comrade, show pride in your outfit and keep fit too.

  8. Love this tradition. I've never heard of it and always like to learn something new. Amazing to think it's so large and been around so long, but not well broadcast.

    Great pic you posted too! Thanks for sharing John:)