This weekend I am running my fourth race of 2017 — the GW Parkway Classic. This race always takes priority when I am planning my spring race calendar, although I did miss it a few times when I was injured–and once for a friend’s wedding. I would love for you to run it with me some time, so I’m going to tell you five reasons I love the GW Parkway Classic.
Five Reasons I Love The GW Parkway Classic
1. It’s my hometown race. I’d love to show you around town if you come stay anywhere in the Washington, D.C. area, but this race takes place in Alexandria, Virginia, which really is my hometown. I was born and raised not too far from the finish area in Old Town, and for a few years lived about 2 miles from the starting line at Mount Vernon. I love racing on my home turf–it never gets old.
Seen on my run last weekend.
2. The course is lovely. The 10 miler starts at the historic Mount Vernon Estate (George Washington’s home) and is run along the George Washington Parkway into Old Town. As you’ve seen from the pictures I take from the Mount Vernon Trail (which parallels the parkway), the scenery is lovely, with lots of trees and views across the Potomac River. This time of year the dogwoods are flowering, and it’s so pretty!
3. The course is challenging. I’ve heard that the course has a net negative elevation change, but don’t let that fool you! The first five miles have some serious rolling hills that will challenge your legs, and there is a vicious short but steep uphill climb right at mile nine. But there’s also a lovely downhill stretch after mile 5, and the push to the finish is as flat as could be with crowds cheering along the road. The variety keeps things interesting–and challenging.
4. The race is well-organized. This year is the 33rd running of this race, which is put on by Pacers, a local running company that knows the area as well as it knows running. The point-to-point logistics may sound intimidating–you park near the finish or at another designated location and take a bus to the starting area– but they work out really well. There is a great atmosphere at the starting area, and they offer heat sheets, water and coffee as you get ready to race. This race also has the best finish party, with live music and a beer garden sponsored by Port City Brewery–another homegrown favorite. If it’s a nice day, runners and their families will hang out at the park, basking in the endorphins and soaking up the sunshine.
2016 GW Parkway Classic Multi-Chapter MRTT group photo
5. So many friends run this race. For all of these reasons, so many friends run this race! All the local MRTT groups have a great turn out, and this year I’m super-excited that Janelle will be coming to town to participate! Although the race has grown exponentially over the past few years, the atmosphere is still more supportive than competitive, and many do this as their first long race.
As much as I love this race, I am not planning to push for a P.R. this year. I know I said that heading into the Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run, but this time I mean it. ;-)Since that race, I had a week of low-key running in Copenhagen, a week of no running in Seoul, and a week of easy training. I plan to focus on my pacing and hold back during those first few miles so I am not suffering at the end. If I can pull that off, it would be nice for a change!
Do you have a favorite hometown race?