Annual D.C. fall trilogy of military-themed events will go virtual due to COVID-19

The Marine Corps Marathon, the Army Ten-Miler, and the Association of the U.S. Army Annual Meeting are held each year in October.

Running of the Marine Corps Marathon overseas
Running the Marine Corps Marathon overseas
(Staff Sgt. Jacob Osborne / U.S. Marine Corps)
Updated: July 30, 2020 - 1:26pm

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The annual Washington, D.C. fall trilogy of military-themed major gatherings will go virtual for the first time this year due to COVID-19, organizers have announced.

The popular October trilogy consists of the Marine Corps Marathon, the Army Ten-Miler, and the Association of the U.S. Army (AUSA) Annual Meeting. Each year the combined events, draw more than 80,000 participants to the nation's capital, to race through the streets or attend seminars and roundtables, and to admire the latest in Army weapons and equipment.

"This was a tough call," AUSA leaders said in a statement announcing plans to go virtual. "The annual meeting is an incredibly important event and one of our favorite ways to celebrate everything that unites us, but health and safety must come first."

The two races, the Marine Corps Marathon and the Army Ten-Miler, will hold their events as localized, do-it-yourself runs. 

Before the Marine Corps Marathon decided to go virtual this year, some 24,000 people signed up for the live event, spokesperson Jheanel Walters told Just the News. Most have shifted to do the virtual event, she said.

Walters said that the 2020 event was planned to commemorate two significant anniversaries, the 45th running of the marathon, and the 75th jubilee of the Battle of Iwo Jima, a touchstone in Marine Corps history. As such, she said, marathon organizers designed a finishers’ medal that includes volcanic ash from Iwo Jima.

“The ash is enclosed in the medal,” she said. 

The medal proved such a draw that runners who signed up for the 50K race switched over to do the marathon in order to receive the prize, Walters said. Organizers will mail the medals to runners who submit proof of completing a course, she said.

Facilitators at AUSA still are planning their virtual meeting.

"We're coordinating details for a large virtual event this October," leaders said in a statement. 

This won't be the first virtual turn for big military gatherings in the age of COVID. Another annual event, the Special Operations Forces Industry Conference (SOFIC) in Tampa was virtual for the first time this year, in May.

Organizers wanted to "keep the conversation going" between U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) and industry, said Christine Klein, an official with the National Defense Industrial Association, which hosts SOFIC in conjunction with USSOCOM.

Nearly 5,000 people attended the online event, Klein said.

"As one the first key military conferences to go virtual, all attendees found the content, marketplace and interaction key to staying connected," Klein said in a statement to Just the News. 

All the groups' organizers have set their events to be held in person in 2021 and beyond.

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