If you read my race recaps, you can tell that my favorite race distance is the ten miler. I know many people prefer half marathons, but I think they are about 5K too long!
1. Reston 10 Miler. The first race on my 2016 calendar is the Reston 10 Miler in Reston, Virginia, on March 6. It was a little snowy last year, but I finished in time to get home before the roads got too bad–although I did get stuck behind a row of snowplows.
What I like about this race: This is a relatively small, low-key race, which is rare for 10 milers. It starts and ends at a high school with plenty of parking (and indoor bathrooms!) and you can pick up your race bib the morning of the race. The event is well-organized, supports the high school’s track and field program, and the pictures are free.
What I don’t like about this race: Reston is a solid 45 minutes from my house, off a toll road. It’s an easy drive, but mentally feels like it’s really far away.
Why I keep signing up: I really like the course, which is a loop that runs through pretty neighborhoods with rolling hills.
2. Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run: The next race on my calendar is the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run on April 3. This is the third year that I’ve been part of their social media team, and it’s so much fun to support such a classic D.C. event.
What I like about this race: The cherry blossoms aren’t always in bloom on race weekend, but when they are (like last year), it is spectacular. The race starts and ends at the Washington Monument, and has the flattest course around. The event supports Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, which I am happy to support with my own fundraising efforts.
What I don’t like about this race: Hains Point.
Why I keep signing up: This race shows off a lot of what is great about Washington, D.C.–the monuments, the cherry blossoms, the lovely spring weather–and there is something so moving about hearing the National Anthem while standing in the shadow of the Washington Monument.
3. The George Washington Parkway Classic: Sometimes the George Washington Parkway Classic and Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run are on the same day, or back-to-back weekends, but this year they are a few weeks apart, with the GWPC being on April 24. My very first race was the 5K of this event, so it always will have special meaning to me.
What I like about this race: The course is a point-to-point route along the G.W. Parkway from Mt. Vernon Estate to Old Town, in Alexandria, Virginia. The first few miles have rolling hills, but the course flattens out after that, except for one cruel hill at mile 9. This race is growing in popularity, but still has a low-key vibe. For the past few years, Port City has been sponsoring the beer tent.
What I don’t like about this race: The flat stretch from miles 6-8 is always challenging.
Why I keep signing up: Since this was my first race, I think of it as “my” race.
4, The Reston Perfect Ten. Fast-forward to September 26, when my next ten miler is the Reston Perfect Ten. This is the same course as the Reston Ten Miler, but it’s nice enough to run twice in one year.
5. The Army Ten Miler. My last ten miler of the year is the Army Ten Miler, on October 6. When I started running in 2001, the Army Ten Miler was going to be my first ten mile race, but it was cancelled after 9/11.
What I like about this race: The energy of the Army Ten Miler is amazing. While there are plenty of civilians like me, you are likely to be lining up with servicemen and women from all branches of the military, and you may find yourself running with wounded warriors who embody determination, dedication and perseverance.
What I don’t like about this race: The 14th Street Bridge, and the logistics. Packet pick-up is at the D.C. Armory, which is not easy to get to, and parking near the race start can get tricky unless you arrive really early and beat the other 29,999 runners.
Why I keep signing up: ????? I come close to not signing up for this race every year, but after eight years, I think it’s earned a permanent spot in my race calendar.
What is your favorite race distance?