Latest reviews by Daniel Watson

(2016)
"Must Outrun the Plane!"
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This race is an experience everyone should have at least once in their lifetime. You are running on one of the runways at Dulles International Airport (IAD) while the rest of the airport is still operational. You get to see planes taxiing, taking off, and landing on other runways while running the entire length of runway 1R and back.

Parking is provided for free at the Udvar-Hazy Air & Space Museum in Chantilly. Make sure to get there with plenty of time since you are running on an active airport you will need to go through security screening. For runners this means being scanned with a handheld wand but it still takes time to get through security, through the museum and out to the start line. Spectators are allowed but only at the start/finish line not along the runway itself.

Since the race is on a runway it is the flattest course you will ever encounter. In fact, both time I've run it I've set PRs for the distance: 1:01:09 in 2015 and this year 58:14. The race is limited to 2,500 runners total for the 5k & 10k.

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(2016)
"A Challenging 20K in the summer"
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I've run the Leesburg 20K for the past two years and it was actually the first race I ever signed up for after getting back into running. Packet pickup is at Potomac River Running located off Route 7 and easy process. It allows you to pick up some additional gels/nutrition if you need some last minute supplies or other running items.

The course starts/ends right across from Tuscarora Mill on Harrison St SE in downtown Leesburg. There is a town parking garage right across from the start/finish, however beware it does fill up quickly. Otherwise you can find free parking on the street in downtown Leesburg. The starting corral is semi-organized with placards listing anticipated paces however it is basically scouts honor that you line up in the correct area of the corral. Both years I've run it I've had to navigate around people who lined up further up than they should have running at slower paces at the start.

The course starts off on surface streets through Leesburg heading to Loudoun County High School. After doing a loop around the high school the 20k veers on to the W&OD trail heading towards Purcellville. The W&OD isn't closed during the race so you will have to be aware of cyclists, however the race organizers do their best to keep everyone safe. The section on the W&OD trail is about 9-10 miles, an out & back, which can be brutal if you aren't careful. If you look at the elevation profile the first half of this race is all uphill. It isn't a crazy incline, and in fact most of it doesn't even look uphill visually, but the fact it is all uphill the first half can really wear you out if you don't properly pace yourself.

The 20K has 6 water stations throughout, with 4 of them also having gatorade for you. There is also one gel stop at mile 6 of the 20K. There is a 3 hour time limit for the course (~ 14:30 pace).

While I enjoy this race and do it yearly, the fact the majority of it is on the W&OD means there aren't many spectators to cheer you on. You have to have the mental toughness to continue until you get near mile 12 when you get back near downtown Leesburg and there are sporadic spectators along the trail and streets to the finish line.

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(2016)
"Awesome 1st Half Marathon Experience"
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This was my first half marathon experience and I was totally pleased with the actual race and all the support along the course. Access to the starting line was easy with multiple metro access points. It also helped that I got on the metro from the 1st stop on the Orange line so I was guaranteed a seat, the train filled up quickly as we passed each additional stop. My corral was easy to find and the waves were started efficiently.

My one negative with this race was the expo. My friend and I went to the expo on Friday at noon and it was a total zoo. No direction on where to park near the expo (no staff showing cars where to go or signs). Once inside the expo it was okay I guess (in fairness this was my first experience with an expo) but I expected more vendors for running gear and different options. A lot of it was sponsors trying to get me to sign up for their products (like Geico, or some other insurance company). I did like that the company supplying gels for the race had a booth and we could test them out prior to the race.

As for the course, I thought it was set nicely starting at the National Mall and running past several monuments. The only real challenge with the course is around the National Zoo (Rock Creek Parkway) where the one large hill climb is (roughly around 6 miles in to the race). There were also plenty of supporters along the route cheering you on and keeping your spirits up. It was a good time reading at some of the funny signs they created.

I enjoyed the race so much I immediately signed up for the 2017 race hoping to beat my time from this year.

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