Day 2 of the 10 Days of the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler (Day 1 here)
BLOSSOM WATCH UPDATE: Wednesday’s snow is melted, things are warming up, and THERE ARE BUDS ON ALL THE TREES! But it doesn’t look like anything is quite ready to bust open yet in the Tidal Basin area…
Typically in a DC race, Hains Point is where you go to run a slow, agonizing, quasi boring race (this has been the case for me in the Marine Corps Marathon and the Nike 1/2). You know what I mean: long stretches of basically nothing. People don’t even usually hold signs in Hains Point, they stick them in the ground like it’s election season and then disappear. Who put out these signs? Like the mystery of how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie pop, the world may never know. The thing is, Hains Point is not close to anything and can be kind of a pain to get to unless you’re just out for a run and/or bike ride. So if you didn’t know better, you might be a little freaked out that Hains Point is a substantive part of the Cherry Blossom course.
The Cherry Blossom course is perhaps the most mall-focused of any race course in DC, so naturally it’s got the Hains Point portion. This part of the course is flat as a pancake (unless you’re trying to walk on that messed up piece of pavement that’s supposed to pass for a walkway) and depending on the weather (especially in the spring) this part can get really windy since you’re right off the water. But the race has that portion for a really good reason: it’s where all the cherry blossoms are!
Out of towners (myself included last year during my first cherry blossom season) get really confused and assume that the entire mall has cherry blossoms. Because, as previously mentioned, they’re kind of a big deal around here so it’s logical to think that they’re all over the whole mall. But this is actually not the case.
The blossoms are on the south side of the mall, and located mostly around the tidal basin and Hains Point. So where in previous races you were just running through green foliage that you thought was insanely boring, this is actually basically the best part because those are all cherry trees. There are pretty flowering trees on the mall, but they’re not the cherry blossom trees you see on the t-shirts, postcards, and any and all photographs of Washington DC. On windy days, this course could be a little brutal. Rock Creek along the water gets some pretty heavy winds in March, but for the most part it’s, as they say, “flat and fast.” If people are coming out to cheer you on, there’s a metro stop close to the turnaround on Memorial Bridge (Arlington Cemetery stop) but aside from that if they want to be anywhere other than near the start/finish they’re going to need to walk.
As I mentioned back during the 26.2 days of Marine Corps, the mall has a lot of Capital Bikeshare bikes are also an option.