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More than 4,500 runners are signed up for the 17th annual Marine Corps Historic Half Marathon, which takes place Sunday morning in Fredericksburg. (Photo courtesy of Marine Corps Marathon Organization)

Tough as iron: Meet the staunch, shrinking group of Historic Half diehards

by | May 18, 2024 | ALLFFP, Fredericksburg, Sports

As the 17th Marine Corps Historic Half Marathon takes place on Sunday in Fredericksburg, Dan Weidensaul will be surrounded by 75 other members of a dedicated group of runners. 

The list dwindles each year, but there are 76 entrants remaining from “Iron Mile Company,” a club whose members have participated in the event every year since 2008 — even during the virtual 2020 and ‘21 competitions. 

The exclusive club makes up a small percentage of the more than 4,500 runners who will take to the streets of Fredericksburg Sunday morning to complete the grueling 13.1-mile course. 

“I consider it an honor just to be healthy enough to continue to be able to do this first of all,” Weidensaul said. “Secondly, I enjoy coming back every year. Knowing there are a few of us who have shown that same commitment year after year, I just hope many folks in that group continue to do it as long as they are able.” 

Locust Grove resident Dan Weidensaul is part of Iron Mile Company, whose members have participated in the Historic Half every year.
Photo courtesy of Marine Corps Marathon Organization

The Iron Mile Company is named in honor of the Iron Mines Company, a mining and smelting operation founded in Spotsylvania County in 1725. 

To be included in the group, runners must have completed every Historic Half since its inception in 2008. Since 2017, a finish in the 18.1-mile Devil Dog Double also qualified runners to remain in the club; that event is not available this year. 

Forty-nine men and 27 women — ranging in age from 32-77 — have been steadfast in the group. They hail from nine states, with 23 runners from the immediate Fredericksburg area. 

Kristen Loflin, the public relations coordinator for the Marine Corps Marathon Organization, said runners fall out of the group for a variety of reasons, whether it be age, health, or a change in location. 

“Naturally the number does shrink but it’s still impressive to have over 70 individuals who have run every year with us,” Loflin said. “That’s a testament to the event, and a testament to the community.” 

There are 677 residents from the immediate Fredericksburg region competing in this year’s event.  

Weidensaul, 46, is a former Fredericksburg resident who now lives in Locust Grove. He will be honored Saturday evening with the Oscar Mike “On the Move” award that is bestowed upon an individual who strongly advocates for the Historic Half.

Weidensaul has also competed in seven Marine Corps Marathon events. He said his first Historic Half experience was his slowest, taking him more than two hours. He’s consistently improved and now comes in at a little more than an hour and a half. 

Weidensaul, who works as a Marine civilian at Marine Corps Base Quantico, said he runs to compete against his former self and not others. He said his joy comes from seeing fellow Marines engage with the community. 

“What I enjoy most about this event is its connection to the Marine Corps, and its connection to our local community,” Weidensaul said. “It’s just kind of the perfect blend of my passions – the Marines, running and the local community.” 

In addition to the absence of the Devil Double Dog, the Semper Fi 5k will not take place this year. Loflin said those decisions were made to enhance the Historic Half. 

Loflin said the weekend is “an overall community celebration promoting goodwill, health and fitness.” 

When runners pick up their packets on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Fredericksburg Convention Center, the Healthy Lifestyle Expo will also be taking place. That event is open to the public, not just runners.  

“Fredericksburg has always been such a great home for us,” Loflin said. “We are able to celebrate the history of the Marine Corps, the very rich history of the city of Fredericksburg and share this destination and our mission with runners from across the country and across the world.” 

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