- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 24, 2005

When you receive an e-mail with the subject line “Runners Are Drooling over DVD release of ‘Marine Corps Marathon: Basic Training,’” you may feel you need to get your hands on this new release immediately.

Save your money.

In PR vernacular, this is a case of the sizzle being much more exciting than the steak.

According to the Marines’ press release, “Runners everywhere are raving about ‘Marine Corps Marathon: Basic Training,’ ‘I’m showing it to all my running buddies, and I know they’ll be drooling over this marathon,’ one runner exclaimed in an e-mail to the Honolulu-based production company (Sports Media Productions).”

His running buddies must be dogs.

I sat patiently through 27 minutes of this $24.95 DVD and was not inspired in the least. Even a friend who viewed it with me, a casual runner with an interest someday in running the Marine Corps, called it boring and disappointing and found the title somewhat misleading.

The DVD is little more than a “how to” video for runners to prepare for Marine Corps, much like the video the Chrysler salesman gave me about my new car a few years ago.

“Basic Training” does not detail how to train for the marathon, as one would expect. The video briefly shows a woman stretching, then jogging, then going to her office and applying online for a spot in the marathon. In real life, she’d be crushed to discover that the 2005 field had been filled by April 8.

Next the video takes you to the Runner’s Expo, with live footage from the 2004 race. It shows you how to maneuver from packet pickup to the clothing vendors, subtly focusing on Brooks apparel, a race sponsor. Then it moves quickly to the seminars and pasta party the evening before the race.

The promo for the DVD said it was “packed with insider tips,” but the only useful part is the course map and description. Unfortunately for the production company, any changes to the course next year and beyond will render this course tour useless. As it was, the 2004 course was changed radically from the previous 28 years.

Mile by mile, the video follows the lead runners without identifying them, as well as some mid-pack athletes, while giving some brief historical notes about Georgetown and a number of the famous monuments and federal buildings along the course.

The DVD concludes with the finish area and a brief look at the awards ceremony.

As one who has covered this race since 1982, I will admit that I am jaded and not one to be overly excited by the Marine Corps Marathon. I did, however, imagine that this DVD would capture the inspiration behind the race, maybe talking with some past participants who were among the race leaders as well as some of the inspiring people about whom I have written in the past, including the original organizers. And there are a ton of them, actually more than 300,000 participants since the inaugural running.

I had imagined that after seeing the DVD, I would regret being a middle distance runner and aspire to be a marathoner again. I’d jump from the sofa and start calisthenics, then sprint off into the night on a training run.

Instead, I sat watching quietly with my friend, who has been a spectator at a few marathons and has been through basic training with the U.S. Army. It was so quiet, she fell asleep in the middle.

Is the guv crazy? — Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee celebrated a life-altering day March 6 when the former 280-pound couch potato beat the odds and completed the Little Rock Marathon in his home state.

Has he been bitten by the bug?

It appears so, because the now-170-pound governor has committed to running the 30th Marine Corps Marathon on Oct. 30, with his 23-year-old daughter, Sarah, of the District.

“I think I’ve lost my mind,” Huckabee said last week. “I’m right on schedule, however. I was going to do the Little Rock Marathon next year, but I thought I could do Marine Corps this year and be ready in time for Little Rock [on March 5]. I’ve been traveling to Hawaii, Des Moines, Chicago, Denver, and running wherever I go. There’s not a better way in the world to see a city than to run in it.”

Huckabee said he had no idea he would be running Marine Corps until he fell victim to a conspiracy at the American Running Honors Gala on June 8 in the District.

“I met [event director] Rick Nealis from the Marine Corps Marathon. I think it was a rigged deal. Eight of the 10 people at my table, other than Billy Mills, were connected with the Marine Corps Marathon,” he said.

Huckabee is inviting Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack, who also ran Little Rock this year, to join him. Vilsack’s office did not return a call seeking comment.

When I told Huckabee the last time a high-ranking elected official ran the Marine Corps with his daughter — Vice President Al Gore in 1997 — this possible 2008 Republican presidential candidate replied, “Oh no!”

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