District of Columbia,
- 10 miles
- Road Race
This was my 8th running of the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler and definitely one of the most beautiful. Early April in DC is always a question mark - it could be snowing, it could be in the 80's. Anything's possible. But this year was just about perfect. However, even on the worst weather days, this race will always keep me coming back.
The Cherry Blossom Ten Miler is a lottery entry. The lottery always opens in December, is open for ten days, then you find out if you're in. But don't worry if you don't get a lotto entry - there are bib transfers open in February for all those people who thought running sounded like a good idea in December, then changed their minds. And of course, if you volunteer, you don't have to get in through the lottery, so here's another promo for race volunteering.
One thing I love about registration is the options. This race is CHEAP. With all the fees, this race cost me $51. Now, that's the bare bones entry. The registration comes with your race and a cotton t-shirt. For an added fee, you can get a tech shirt. For another added fee, you can also get a medal. I'm trying to cut back my expenses, so I didn't go for the medal, but was tempted. But the great thing is that you can do what you want. Love medals? Get the medal! Hate medals? Don't get the medal! Something for everyone without added expense to those of us trying to cut back.
The race does a two day expo - Friday afternoon/evening and then Saturday during the day. The team does such an excellent job keeping this organized. For the past few years, the expo has been at the Building Museum. Parking isn't so great there, but metro access is phenomenal. They have bib pickup on a different floor from the vendors, which definitely helps with crowds. The lines were long when I got there, but they moved so incredibly quickly. Lots of nice vendors around as well, so you can pick up anything you might need for your race and also have a few snacks. (They even had a sign up telling you which booths were handing out edible goodies. That's my kind of race.)
I may be biased because I know a bunch of people who work with the team at CUCB, but their communication is phenomenal. They work so hard to make sure everyone has the info they need and their social media person is top notch!
While there isn't a ton of parking down near the race start, DC is filled with easy-to-access parking garages within walking distance. Metro isn't open early enough to get you to the start, unfortunately, but there are plenty of other options.
Race start is also easy to find. Just look for the Washington Monument. You can't miss it.
This race has a colored corral start, and the team did a great job making sure everyone knew where their corrals were. Also, there are plenty of portapotties. Yes, there are lines, but they're not bad.
The race publishes the order of the wave starts and the times that they start, so if you're in one of the back waves, you know that you have time after the official start to hit the bathroom and such. It makes for such a relaxing start. The waves all get off within 25 minutes of the start, which gives the crowds a bit of time to spread out.
The only time I really noticed any congestion on the course was within the first mile, but I think that goes for just about every race I've ever done. And it certainly wasn't terrible - I never had to slow to a walk due to crowds. The course is beautiful. You get to run past so many DC sights and out onto Hains Point, where the cherry blossoms really shine. There were plenty of people stopping for selfies and photos (just make sure to step off the run course, guys!).
The race does have a tight pace limit - 2:20, so a 14 minute mile pace requirement. The National Park Service won't allow the roads to be open any longer, so they have to get the runners off the course. There is a sweeper bus, but there's also a cutoff point at mile 5, where if you aren't on pace, you will get diverted to the finish line. Definitely something to be aware of before you register. (There is also a 5K run/walk race that starts after the start of the 10 miler, so there's something for everyone.)
The course is relatively flat until the very end of the race, just a few little rollers. (Yes, it seems cruel to put a hill right at the finish.) I think of it as a generally easy course and one that's really enjoyable to run.
The volunteers are PHENOMENAL. Seriously, these people are amazing and cheerful and work so very hard. I don't know how CUCB gets so many great volunteers, but I'm so glad they come out.
After the race, there's water and snacks, standard stuff for a race. You can also go pick up your medal if you purchased one. This year, there were some issues with lines at bag check, but they've already apologized and indicated plans to fix it for next year, which made me really happy to see.
This race really does a great job of listening to people and putting on a great race. They've dealt with all sorts of issues (weather, accidents diverting the course, etc), and each year is still stellar. I'll be back in 2020!