WASHINGTON (DC News Now) — The 47th Marine Corps Marathon returned to the nation’s capitol Sunday morning, and over 17,000 people flooded the streets for “The People’s Marathon.”

Sunday’s race marks the return to in-person racing since the start of the pandemic and both fans and participants were glad to get back out on the course. Second-class petty officer Stephen Plummer hand-cycled 26.2 miles and was thrilled and relieved to conquer the challenge.

“COVID the last couple of years had taken a lot of civilian and military opportunities away for races so the fact that we’re able to do races like this in person and challenge ourselves physically and mentally is great,” Plummer explained.

Wendy Willis and her family have run the Marine Corps Marathon since 2016. She cheered on racers holding large cutouts of her family members who were running in the race and explained her son and new daughter-in-law met at this very race a few years ago. She was emotional when asked how much the return to in-person races means to her.

“It means a lot. We did the virtuals as a family, but you know what? Seeing all these people out here, it’s heartwarming and you know what? I’m here to cheer them on!” Willis exclaimed.

Civilians and service members from all walks of life walked, ran, and hand cycled the course including Ana Stoehr who served 20 years in the Navy and completed her 7th 10k Sunday morning.

“I think it’s wonderful and it’s exciting and you always know they have your back,” Stoehr explained. “I did the virtual and it wasn’t nearly as thrilling as this one is.

The Marine Corps Marathon doesn’t offer any prize money and is one of the largest marathons to forgo a monetary prize. This earned the marathon’s nickname “The People’s Race.” But the race offers something some participants would rather seek out: comradery.

That’s exactly what marathon winner and active-duty Marine captain Kyle King, of the 3rd Battalion, 11th Marines, felt when he crossed the finish line.

“It’s really special doing it with all of the Marines out there. I know there were a lot of people volun-told to be out here, probably woke up at three or four o’clock in the morning,” Captain King said. “So it was awesome getting to run in front of them and bring in the win for the home team.”

Captain King, who also competed in the Olympic Trials in 2020, also explained that Sunday’s marathon race was also part of the US Armed Forces Championship which he described as a friendly competition between the different branches of the military.

Each finisher was awarded a medal and a salute by an active-duty Marine to celebrate their achievement.