Monday, March 28, 2011

National Marathon, Part I : Oh, I hope I can make it to the Start line on Time (3/26/11)

6:00 – Columbia Heights Metro Station

I couldn’t get into the station via the door nearest my cousin’s house. I glanced across 14th Street and saw a large group of runners surrounding the Station entrance on that side. So, I jogged over. Almost immediately a T worker comes and opens the gates and about 20 of us in running gear with our numbers already on are running down the broken escalator. (Well, it’s not actually broken – the escalator is just temporarily stairs.)

The Metro came almost immediately and we all ran into the train to find yet more people in running garb.

At each stop, another 10-20 people in running garb get aboard the train.

6:15 – L’Efont Plaza Metro Station

Its off the Green Line and downstairs to the Blue/Orange Line. The next train sign, however, is ominous! 19 minutes. 19 minutes? That would put us into Stadium at 6:45 with only 15 minutes to find our place at the starting line and stretch! Aaaagh!

6:34 – L’Efont Plaza Metro Station

The station has been filling up with more and more runners as each Yellow or Green Line train disgorges its Compliment of Marathoners, Half Marathoners and Marathon relayers.
I have been talking to a trio from NYC who had lost the lottery for the NYC Half and were running the National instead.

The first Orange or Blue Line train rolls in. It is stuffed to the gills with runners; there is no way all of us can get on.

After 25-30% of the runners on the platform get aboard the train leaves.

6:35 – L’Efont Plaza Metro Station

The remainder of us get aboard a nearly completely empty second train – 1 minute later!

6:46 – Stadium-Armory Metro Station

Uh oh!

As we detrain one can see the ENTIRE PLATFORM filled side to side and halfway down with runners, trying to get out of the station!

DC’s Metro has a stupid system where you pay different prices for different trips. This requires that you put your fare card through the machine to get out. This means laving requires each person to wait to get permission from the computer before sliding through one of the eight turnstyles – assuming they all work.

6:50 – Stadium-Armory Metro Station

I am now within reaching distance of the stairs.

6:55 – Stadium Armory Metro Station

I am now at the top of the stairs; and of course, not all the turnstyles are working.

7:00 – Stadium Armory Metro Station

I am now outside, and I hear the national Anthem. I start hustling. I get around the corner and I hear the start. Now I am sprinting to get to the start line! AHHHHH!

7:03 – RFK Stadium

Got to my corral as it was leaving now en route to the starting line. (surely, the fact I have no time to stretch won’t hurt me later in the marathon.

I have no clue how the Metro possibly thought that getting about ¼ of the runners to the starting line could happen in the time they gave before it opened. I had timed it the day before – 25 minutes. I, however, didn’t account for the fact that I’d have to wait for the first Blue/Orange so long (my fault) or that it would take so long to leave the station (WMATA’s fault). I suggest to the Metro

a) Open at 5:30, Not 6:00;
b) Leave the gates at Stadium Metro open for those two hours; or,
c) BOTH.


  1. The remainder of us get aboard a nearly completely empty second train – 1 minute later!

    That is like waiting for the 32 bus in Rosi everytime!

  2. Oh I forgot about the stupid 32! I never want to ride the 32 ever again in my life!