Ever since I moved to DC, I can guarantee that on just about every run, I would see at least one other runner out wearing a shirt from the George Washington Parkway Classic. At least one, if not more. So I’ve been curious about this race for awhile, but never did it before because metro doesn’t open early for it so there was no way to get to Alexandria. Plus I was always more concerned with the Nike Women’s Half Marathon, may she rest in peace.
Spoiler: I love the GW Parkway Classic.
Packet Pick up: The weekend before, you could’ve picked up your packet at any Pacers’ store but since I was out of town, I had to go to the Alexandria store to pick mine up. I went after the Crystal City 5k on Friday and it was quick, easy, and painless. The store was busy but no lines, and they were offering merchandise discounts to registered runners (which is normal for them).
Race Morning: I live a car free lifestyle and none of my friends with cars were interested in getting up early to run 10 miles. Most of their races you can roll out of bed and just show up at, but since they close the George Washington Parkway before the race, there’s a bit of a wait between when you have to get to the start and the actual start.
I took Uber from my apartment in DC to the shuttles Pacers had arranged in Alexandria. It was quick, easy, and painless. I got there around 6:20 and didn’t have to wait on line to get on the bus. We arrived at G.Dubs’ Mt. Vernon Estate around 7 a.m. for the nicest pre-race set up I’ve ever seen. It was chilly so they had heat sheets, coffee, bagels, bananas, and water set out. IT’S LIKE THEY KNEW I FORGOT TO EAT BEFORE I LEFT MY HOME.
Also, you could get your picture taken with George and Martha Washington and the line was noticeably shorter than the pre-race character photos at Disney events.
The Race: The corrals were small, kind of like Cherry Blossom, but people merged once the gun went off and it was fine. I started at the back of the 10 minute self-sort area. I clocked it: by 0.20 miles into the race, the road had opened up and I didn’t feel really cramped.
The course was quite lovely, wooded, with the Potomac on the right side, residential homes on the left, and spectators throughout the course. This course had two things I love: it was point to point with no sharp turns, no turn arounds, no outs and backs, and it had nice, gentle rolling hills that kept it interesting and challenging without being too challenging, you know?
Weather was amazing. Just before the start, the sun came out for the first 2ish miles and then there was cloud cover until mile 9. Perfect.
I set up the goal of going out and negative splitting, ideally with my last mile being my fastest. There’s a certain satisfaction I derive from being passed by everyone in the first mile (downhill) and then passing all those people by mile 6. And it worked, I did just that.
You know how sometimes in a run, you’re just on? It all clicks and it feels enjoyable? From the weather to the really great organization to the fact that I PERFECTLY TIMED putting on “Shake it Off” at 9.5 miles to play til I crossed the finish line, this was just an all around good run.
Afterwards, I even hung out at the post-race party in Oronoco park because the weather was that good and the DJ was playing “Everybody” by the Backstreet Boys.
Two enthusiastic thumbs up on the GW Parkway Classic.