Five Reasons I Love The GW Parkway Classic

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. 

I’m also joining the Friday Five 2.0 link up hosted at Running on Happy and Fairytales and Fitness. I missed it last week when I was traveling and am glad to be home!

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?

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37 Responses to Five Reasons I Love The GW Parkway Classic

  1. This sounds like a great race! Its always so special to race in your hometown. I would love to do this one someday- maybe next year!
    Lisa @ Mile by Mile recently posted…5 Ways For Runners To Relax (Plus a Visualization Exercise)My Profile

  2. I’ve actually never run it! Good luck this weekend I hope that the weather holds out for you!

  3. I want to do. DC area race and you make this one sound good! Too bad it’s in April, there are SO many good races this time of year!

    I have a hometown race that I feel the same way about!

  4. Kimberly G says:

    I always find that hometown races are SO much fun! I hope you have an awesome race this weekend!

    My favorite hometown race takes place every June. It’s a 5K and 10K race through downtown and it raises funds for the cancer center at our local hospital.
    Kimberly G recently posted…5 Ways to Pamper a RunnerMy Profile

  5. I love that you have so many 10 mile races to choose from!

    My favorite hometown race–I have a few! I love the Chicago Marathon, of course. That 10 miler that I just ran–that is another. And there’s a local 10k around July 4 which is nice.
    Wendy@Taking the Long Way Home recently posted…Book Review: The Road to Sparta by Dean KarnazesMy Profile

  6. Marcia says:

    This looks like a great one. I really respect the races that have been around and endured that long. My fave local race is my first half, still the toughest half course I’ve ever run. It’s very no-frills. A “runner’s race”.
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  7. Lesley says:

    That sounds like fun! I was at Mount Vernon in middle school, but haven’t been back to the big landmarks for quite a while. It’s definitely something I think I should do now that I’m older.

  8. I would love to do this if I ever get out your way! I love 10 mile races!
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  9. My sister lives there! I’ll have to come visit and do this race while I’m there!
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  10. I’m very excited for the race and looking forward to seeing you! I’m a little intimidated by the course but I just want to enjoy the sights and have fun!

  11. Sounds like a great race! As I’ve said before, you have so many good 10-milers in the DC area, I’m thinking I need to plan a race-cation there for next spring. And then we could finally meet 🙂
    Michelle @ Running with Attitude recently posted…5 Benefits of PlankingMy Profile

  12. I love a hometown race and you have so many choices! I bet the change up in your exercise routine is going to pay off! Have a fun and speedy race!
    Mary Beth Jackson recently posted…Why do we Run- the 2016 Running USA factsMy Profile

  13. This sounds like an awesome race with a beautiful course! And who doesn’t love a 10-miler? Good luck….I look forward to hearing how it went 😉
    Kimberly Hatting recently posted…It’s not a Race, it’s a Training RunMy Profile

  14. This race sounds awesome! There’s a local 5K we do here that’s a favorite of mine. It’s a relatively easy course, the money goes towards special education funds, and they always host a great post-race party at a local bar. It’s a blast.

  15. Gina says:

    My last race had a vicious hill at mile 9 too!! Yikes. I love my hometown race too! This year I’m missing it because I’m racing in CO
    Gina recently posted…Eagle Creek Pack-It Sport ReviewMy Profile

  16. I have a lot of local races I enjoy, but very few of them are all that scenic. You are so lucky to have such a beautiful place to run!

    My mom always mentions the new half in the town I grew up – of course Darlene has run it, but I have no intention to — it’s not like they’re going to come & spectate & if they wanted to, it would drive my husband crazy! And they no longer live there.
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  17. Oops, forgot to wish you luck!
    Judy @ Chocolaterunsjudy recently posted…5 Ways to put on your oxygen maskMy Profile

  18. Ana says:

    This sounds like a fantastic race!! Have fun!
    Ana recently posted…Friday Five 4 21 17My Profile

  19. Rachel says:

    I’ve never been to Mt Vernon. Of alllllll the times I’ve been in your area (which is a lot since my family lives there), I’ve never been! How is that possible?!

    This race looks great. And it’s always fun to have friends running!
    Rachel recently posted…How to Pamper Yourself During Racing SeasonMy Profile

  20. I love hometown races and Alexandria is so beautiful that I bet it is just a beautiful course to run.

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