District of Columbia,
- 3 miles/5K, 13.1/Half Marathon, 26.2 miles/Marathon
- Road Race
Disclaimer: I received free entry to the United Airlines Rock ‘n’ Roll Washington DC Half Marathon as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find and write race reviews!
I ran the United Airlines Rock 'n' Roll Washington DC Half Marathon on Saturday, March 10, for BibRave. I also ran this race last year, and the weather (obviously something that's not in anyone's control), was much nicer this year. I enjoyed myself last year, but I definitely had more fun hanging out post-race this year because I was not freezing like the year before.
Rock 'n' Roll made some updates for 2018, including having music playing from the mile markers. There are also bands of different kinds along the course. The course starts with a view of the Washington Monument and soon after takes runners past the Lincoln Memorial and later, toward the Capitol. It's fun to run through the closed streets of such a big city. There is also a waterfront portion early on.
There is one huge hill that is around the Mile 6 marker (my slowest mile, with the worst of the hill, was during Mile 7). On Strava, it came in as a 7 percent grade. There are other hills throughout the course, but nothing compared to that, and there are some enjoyable downhills in the second half.
I really liked this year's T-shirt, which was blue, and medal. I think the women's shirts run relatively small. I normally wear a women's medium and I chose a women's large shirt after getting a medium at this race last year. The medal was in the shape of a guitar pick with Washington, D.C., scenery.
Aid stations were clearly marked, and there were sections for sports drink and gels, but I took off a star because some of the aid station volunteers were still pouring water into the cups when runners arrived. I was in the middle of the pack (finished in 2:14) and they seemed a little behind. However, volunteers were friendly and able to give me two cups as I asked for them. It also seemed that there were a good amount of stops. I didn't use the sports drink or gels on course, just water.
There were plenty of spectators along the course, some with fun signs and some in costume. There were also a few unofficial beer stops.
After the race, there were water bottles, sports drink bottles, chocolate milk bottles, bags of chips and popcorn, bananas (too green for me) and hummus snacks. Runners also got a beer ticket to use after the race (21+) — bring your ID if you plan to get a beer.
I went to the expo at about 5:15-5:30 p.m. Friday, and there was a short line to get in, but not as long as last year. There were security staff checking bags and using a metal detector. There was no line to get my bib or shirt, and that process was very easy. I liked that this year, the race had shirts for sale with the participants' names on the back (I bought one), and I also bought a sweatshirt from a local vendor.
I gave parking/access a "4," because it was very easy to get to the start on Metro, but I am from a smaller area and I'm used to just driving up and parking for free. There was a paid parking option with a shuttle for marathoners (who could not ride the Metro because it was not yet open for the morning). The Metro costs money to ride (and to park in the parking lot where you board), as well. But, despite the cost, it was extremely easy to get to the race.
I gave race management a "5" because this was a very well-organized race in the city. It must take a lot of work to have a race like this go on in Washington, D.C. Even though there were thousands of participants, I didn't really get cramped because of the way the corrals were spaced out (there were a few times I got around people, but I didn't feel stuck). The music along the course is cool and I received plenty of emails from the race ahead of time. I knew the information I needed to about the race, expo and transportation. I would suggest maybe having more volunteers at the aid stations next year.