Heads Up – Rock N Roll Marathon is Saturday – Lots of Road Closures. Good Luck Runners!


From MPD:

“The Metropolitan Police Department wishes to advise the public that the 2016 Rock N Roll Marathon is scheduled to be held on Saturday, March 12, 2016. In order to facilitate this event there will be no vehicular traffic allowed along the routes of the race.

The race is scheduled to begin at approximately 7:30 am; however some street closures will begin as early as 12:00 am. All streets affected by this event are expected to be reopened at approximately 3:00 pm.

The marathon will form at Constitution Avenue, NW, just east of 14th Street, NW. For a map and full list of street closures from MPD, go to here.”

Photo by PoPville flickr user Phil

95 Comment

  • justinbc

    *hoping for a different police officer in front of our house than years past*

  • out of curiosity for the marathon runners out there, that hill from rock creek up to calvert street is pretty steep. do other marathons have similar steep-grade hills?

    • Completely depends on the location and course design, but yes, there are several races with hills like that or worse.

    • Every course is different. I have run a few others and they all have some type of hill (gentler rolling hills or a steep one). This one is pretty gnarly though in my opinion and placed right in the middle of the race. I prefer them early or late.

    • That hill sucks. I’ve run 4 marathons and 11 halves. It’s by far the worst hill I’ve hit in any race of either that distance or shorter. Keep in mind that there are doubtless races out in the Rockies with worse hills.

      That being said, every other part of the RNR DC course is great and fast. It’s just that one hill.

      • Lies! People told me this last year and it completely threw me off when the rest of the course was semi-hilly. Obviously nothing as bad as the big Calvert hill, but it was certainly not completely smooth sailing after that.

        • I guess it depends on what you’re used to. Miles 7-the end are definitely rolling hills, but are also net down hill, and you can really fly.

          This will be my first time running this course, but I ran it several years ago when it still went up Connecticut to Calvert. Once you got up into to Adams Morgan, you could really drop the pace and let the course do some of the work for you.

    • HaileUnlikely

      They vary extensively. I have not run other marathons with hills that are both as long and as steep as that. One or the other (as long or as steep), sure, but both that long and that steep, no.
      If you really want some crazy hills, check out the Blue Ridge Marathon, which advertises that it has over a mile of elevation change over the course of the race.

      • I’ve done the Blue Ridge Half – the full marathon is a little much for me. Check out this elevation chart: http://blueridgemarathon.com/race-options/half-marathon/half-marathon-course-map/

        I actually had some trouble training for it because there’s no similar elevation rise in the immediate area that I know of. I did a lot of running from RCP to the Cathedral and back (300 ft gain), but I don’t know of anywhere that has a properly steep grade for an extended period of time.

        I’d recommend doing the race, by the way. If you can stand running up mountains, Roanoke is a cool place to hang out for a spring weekend.

    • There are plenty of marathons with hills (Big Sur, Charlottesville), plenty without (Chicago, LA) and many in between. There are even entirely hill marathons (Pike’s Peak) This one is near the bottom in terms of net elevation change, but that hill is particularly steep.
      There is an entire industry of finding the fastest marathon. Grandma’s in Duluth, MN is the consensus fastest because it is almost entirely just slightly downhill and typically has a tailwind. Boston is also net downhill but has some small hills. Lots of slow runners (“hobby joggers” in runner parlance) are strangely obsessed with getting their fastest time “PR” and travel to these flat races. That has always seemed strange and antithetical to the whole enterprise to me, especially if you are only racing against yourself, but whatever.
      To count as a World Record a Marathon must start and end in the same place (thus net elevation change = 0); the fastest of that type is usually Berlin or London.

      • HaileUnlikely

        I think Steamboat in Scranton PA is generally regarded as faster than Grandma’s. Both are fast, though.
        To be record eligible, the finish has to be within 50% of the length of the race from the start and the net elevation drop cannot be greater than 1 meter of elevation drop per km of race length (thus 42.2 meters for a marathon).

        • Thanks for the clarification.
          Either way I’m always baffled at the obsession among slower runners with finding courses that will get them a slightly faster time because of a physical advantage. Who cares if you improved from 3:08 to 3:04? You’re still the 300th runner to finish, and you didn’t necessarily accomplish a greater physical feat than a slower finish on a harder course.

          • HaileUnlikely

            Agreed, and I’m typically in about that time range (a little faster but same idea). I had a college friend who missed the Olympic Trials qualifying standard by *one second* at Chicago a couple of olympiads ago, and I know several people who made a point of running Grandma’s or Steamboat for the purpose of hitting the qualifying standard (they count for that even though they don’t count for records). Now that, I understand.

          • Wanting to hit the OT time is a reasonable excuse for running Duluth or Scranton

          • Interesting, I’ve found that fast friends are the ones searching for flat and fast to BQ while I, as a slower runner, search for fun and scenic races. Also, if you guys think 3:08 is a slow marathon time, what’s fast for you!?

          • HaileUnlikely

            I don’t regard 3:04 or 3:08 as “slow” per se, but for a male younger than about 50, in my opinion it is squarely in the range of “competing against yourself” as opposed to “competing against the other runners” (I’ve run in the 2:55-2:58 range several times and view my own participation in the event similarly.) I enjoy competing and seeing how fast I can go and do not run for the pure enjoyment of the act or the scenery, but I recognize that what I am doing is fundamentally different from the guys who are competing to win prize money or win the race, almost to the degree that it may as well be a different event.

          • Well, I consider you to be really fast! Those are impressive times. Coming from the back of the pack, fast is anything quicker than 3:30 and anything under 3 is blazing.

          • HaileUnlikely

            Thanks. Those were all a long time ago. I’m older, lazier, fatter, and slower now. I’d need all the stars in alignment to run one mile at that pace right now.

      • One reason to run for time is to qualify for the Boston Marathon. You must run a previous marathon under a time cut off or you can’t get in. Almost every other race has a public lottery or general admittance. Boston is one of the major bucket list races for a marathoner, especially those who won’t ever qualify for olympic trials. Steamtown (referred to as Steamboat below) is a Boston certified qualifying course.

        • Is it difficult to get into Boston? I thought you only needed a 3:00 (for men) which should be pretty trivial for anyone who trains.

          • HaileUnlikely

            Honestly can’t tell whether you’re serious or trolling – this sounds more like a comment for letsrun.com than Popville. It should be relatively trivial for somebody who ran distance for a D1 college program and continued to train after; would not regard as trivial for most of the rest of the population though.

        • HaileUnlikely

          Sorry, that was a weird autocorrect. Yes, I meant to say Steamtown when The Ghost of Steve Jobs decided I must have meant Steamboat.

  • This is the only race in the year I really, really hate. It closes the entire city, and I seem to always have to be somewhere I have to drive. This year, I have to get from Columbia Heights to Bailey’s Crossroads in the mid/late-morning. Since I have to be somewhere else after that, I need to drive. Looking at the map, I’m not seeing how to do that without going up through MD and around.

    • justinbc

      Park south of the race route on Friday night and then just walk a few extra blocks to your car.

      • This is an incredibly dumb question but I’m assuming sidewalks will still be open for pedestrian traffic trying to get across these routes? Like if I planned on walking to Columbia Heights Target on Saturday morning from U St. (bad timing on my part, maybe I should rearrange myself).

        • They run in the road, so sidewalks are open. You can get across the course by waiting for a break in the runners and scurrying across. I recommend not doing that if the elite runners are on their way by, but the casual runner completely understand this and should be used to it.

          • justinbc

            And with the race starting at 730AM expect most of those runners to be through the majority of the city before many people are even out of the house wandering around.

          • Excellent. Thanks guys. I will just scurry and maybe go a little later in the morning than usual. Actually, I suppose I could take the metro one stop too if I felt lazy. I totally forget it’s there.

    • jim_ed

      I think your easiest route by far would be to take Military Rd to River Rd and hit Rt 7 from the Beltway.

      • No, no, there’s no need to go all the way up to Military. I used to live in Mt. P and the best way to get to Rosslyn and points west when Rock Creek is messed up is this: Take Park to Wisconsin to Cathedral to Foxhall and then out across Key Bridge. This route only takes an extra 5 minutes and moves quickly because it’s not roads that most people think to use.

    • Sorry, but again, it’s once a year. This is actually one of my favorite races for the exact reasons you mention. Besides a brief crossing of the Memorial Bridge and back, I’ve love that this is truly a race around the District proper, not a tour of Northern Virginia or one that’s primarily around parks and federal buildings like Air Force-Navy 1/2 or the Cherry Blossom 10. The folks who come out on their front lawns to cheer us on are awesome!

      • justinbc

        Yeah I love that it covers all of DC, but primarily because lots of runners who do marathons travel around state to state, and this really shows off how cool and unique different neighborhoods within DC are to outsiders.

      • Agree completely. I got stuck trying to get around it one year, but I always love when things like this (or festivals) are in our neighborhoods rather than on the mall or Pennsylvania Ave. This is an annoyance I will deal with.

      • For what it’s worth, the western end of the Memorial Bridge is on Columbia Island, which is part of the District. This race doesn’t go into Virginia.

        • Yeah, that’s one of the PR talking points: it’s the only marathon entirely in the District.

  • I realize that this affects only a small part of the population in DC, but the Republican primary is taking place right in the middle of that map. So they are basically cutting off large swaths of the city from being able to reach the primary location on voting day. Regardless of which party you support, that is not a way to run a fair voting process.

    • justinbc

      All 6 different color Metro lines are within 5 blocks of that hotel.

    • Well that sucks for the 15 people that planned on attending a primary that has 0 implications for the national race in any case.

      • nah, Yerbouti has a fair point. Anything that makes it harder for citizens to get to their polls sucks full stop. Let’s skip the whole game of figuring out whose votes have implications that matter and whose votes don’t.

        • HaileUnlikely

          I agree with this. It was really poor planning on the part of the city to hold an event that closes down lots of major roads on voting day.

          • But the race is held the same weekend each year, so wouldn’t it be poor planning on the part of the primary organizers?

          • justinbc

            Bingo. Check to see which one was scheduled first, I’m going to bet you it’s the race. Voting is such an important thing to do, if you can’t tolerate minor inconveniences then you’re the one not respecting the process.

          • HaileUnlikely

            If the permit for the race was issued before the primary was scheduled, then yeah, I guess, but I doubt that is the case – I suspect the primary was scheduled before the race was scheduled.

          • Its not even a city-sanctioned “voting day.” It is a convention/caucus run by a small local political party at one location in the city.

          • binntp

            Pretty sure the race was planned first. I registered for this year’s event the day after last year’s race; I doubt the primary was scheduled then.

          • HaileUnlikely

            I assumed the primary would have been scheduled years ago, but I’ll freely admit that I don’t really have even the foggiest idea.

          • State political parties set their primary dates. They can change from election year to election year. You may recall news from 2008 that a lot of primaries and caucuses were moving their voting dates up to compete with Iowa and New Hampshire. It appears the DC GOP primary date was moved recently per their FAQ page:

            Why did the DC Republican Party move voting for President of the United States and Delegates to the Republican National Convention from June 14 to March 12?

            The short answer is, we didn’t have a choice. The DC Primary this year is on Tuesday, June 14, 2016. Unfortunately, this late Primary date falls within a 45 day window of the start of the Republican National Convention on July 18, 2016. The close proximity of the DC June 14 Primary with the National Convention placed the DC’s Primary election in violation of Republican National Committee Rules.

  • The final stretch is up the street from my house. I look forward to coming out and cheering the runners on!

  • Does it bother anyone else that a for-profit company is able to shut down half of the city?

    • They pay for it and I do think it’s good for the city. That said, I’d prefer we had a not-for-profit marathon (in addition to the Marine Corps) like Boston, NY.

    • No. From a *purely* financial perspective, between the fees paid to the city by the organizers and the visitor income they bring in, races like this are a big net positive for major cities. You can argue the logistical impacts.

      • Hadn’t thought of it that way. Would be interesting to see the comparison between revenue brought in and increase in business v extra services used.

        • The organizers pay for those services, though. Police overtime, etc. The city does kick in some resources (as they do for any large scale event), but much of it is baked into the event permit fee. However, in truth the only way these races make money is because of the army of volunteers. Without that it wouldn’t be cost effective.

    • It bothers me for a few reasons independent of the road closures. The marathoners get totally screwed as miles 13-26 have little course support, not much of music, and water stops that are either out of water or unsupported. The bread and butter ($$$) is in the half marathon. Second, as mentioned below they use an army of volunteers which props their bottom line. It’s actually unclear if this is in violation of the fair labor act; I suspect they try to work around it by enlisting groups of volunteers from the running community. Finally, it’s just depressing we don’t have a local running group throwing a spring marathon and half instead like other cities.

      • HaileUnlikely

        I agree with much of your beef about Competitor group. You can usually count on Competitor group events to start on time, have well-marked courses, be the advertised length, etc., which is more than can be said about a lot of races. However, before Competitor took this event over, the title sponsor was Suntrust, they put on a solid event, and the entry fee was roughly half of what it is now, give or take a little.
        I also agree with you regarding the half versus full marathon. I would not want to run in a full marathon that had a concurrent half on the same course at the same time, regardless of water or crowd support or anything else on the second half. Having most of the people around you start sprinting for home at mile 12.75 and then depart the course at mile 13 while you still have 13 more miles to go really really blows.

    • saf

      Yes. I hate these things that don’t take residents into account.

    • While not closing half the city there are other for profit events that do this. When Ringling would walk its elephants up Cap South to promote the circus. A championship sports parade *if* it were to happen. I imagine there are others.

  • I’ll be able to see mile 14-15 from my apartment, and I’m planning on going out to cheer. Does anyone know where I can see a list of the bands that will be playing? I can’t find anything on the R&R website.

  • NH Ave Hiker

    I was planning on hiking out in the mountains Saturday, looks like I’ll have to stay at my girlfriend’s place or else I’ll have to go all the way out north to 495 from Petworth to get to 66.

  • Does anyone know if they let through any traffic on 16th/ Connecticut/ ANY north/south route? I have plans with family in Frederick on Saturday. It looks like I will need to rent a zip car north of the route and just add 45min – 1hr to my travel time each way from Dupont. Does anyone have alternate suggestions, based on past years?

    • You can still get out of the perimeter at the overpasses and bridges that the route passes under. Take Mass Ave to Wisconsin

    • Leave a little early and plan your route with Waze. They’ll plan a route that accounts for the closures.
      People like to complain, but there’s actually so little traffic on Saturday mornings that it makes very little difference.

      • I used to live 2 blocks outside the course, and this wasn’t my experience at all. Many, many people don’t know about the closures, and traffic was gridlock even going parallel to or away from the course. I was on Irving Street in Columbia Heights, and people drove south, ran into the course, and then tried to disperse. You couldn’t get anywhere until noon or so.

        • Sherman was backed up for 4 or 5 blocks south of the route last year. Lots of honking, obviously people didn’t know it was going on. I was glad to be on foot.

    • I don’t think they let traffic across the route at any point while runners are still coming. But note the following, from the marathon website: “Most road closures and detours will be in effect between the hours of 7:00 am and 2:00 pm. The race begins at 7:30 am, and streets will reopen on a rolling basis as soon as the last participant has passed and all course support materials have been removed. Streets along the earlier miles of the route will open earlier than roads along the end of the route.”

      Depending on what time you’re traveling you may not have a problem, since Conn Ave is closer to the start of the race. Also note that there are some bridges such as Mass Ave, RI Ave, and NY Ave that will allow you to cross the marathon route at all times.

      • But don’t forget that they release corrals somewhat slowly. Not everyone is starting at 7:30, some people won’t start until 8, if not a bit later.

        • binntp

          +1. Last year there were 35 corrals. I was in a middle one and didn’t cross the starting line until 7:55, putting me and thousands of others at Connecticut & Calvert a little before 9. There’s no way it’ll be open again that early…

      • +1 Also keep in mind that the route crosses Connecticut at mile 6 and the race starts at 7:30. Only the real stragglers are going to get there after 8:15.

        • See my comment above, this is not true. The slowest corals will be starting at or even after 8. Also, this race has a lot of casual runners who are just trying to finish. I’ve been cheering in Columbia Heights before and there are plenty of walkers, so the field has a large spread.

          • Didn’t realize the starts were so staggered. Nonetheless, it should still be clear by 8:45. Not many people who run marathons take longer than 45 minutes to run 5.5 miles, right?

      • I do think that there are official crossing points. but there may not be many. I was looking at a pdf with the street closure list that had the map and I think was they were marked with green triangles. At least that it what I understood and that may not be right.

        • You are indeed correct, I didn’t see it on the map when I looked before. If you look at the “INTERACTIVE ROAD CLOSURE MAP” on this page http://www.runrocknroll.com/dc/the-races/road-closures/ there are crossing guard icons that show points where they will let traffic cross *at their discretion*. However, they all appear to be in the capitol hill area, none in NW.

  • Clueless

    Good luck, runners!

  • Any recommendations for getting from Mt P to a place between Bolling AFB and Blue Plains Saturday morning?
    I’m considering going out rt 50 to 295 but it looks like this might run into the race around PA Ave SE. Alternate route could be over to Georgetown to Key Bridge then GW Pkwy to Wilson bridge and north on 295

    • Just plan to leave a little early and use Waze.

    • Thanks – missed seeing that recommendation on the marathon website.

    • Mug of Glop

      Looks like you can cross the park and either go through Virginia over the Wilson Bridge or take Mass Ave back into the perimeter (over the race) and hop on I-395, taking that to I-295 all the way down to either the JBAB or NRL exits. Unless that map is lying to me and unless they changed the route from last year (and it doesn’t look like they did), the race stays on surface streets down here.

  • This might be a silly question, but how bad do the roads get around the immediate course area/access points for vehicles? I’m obviously expecting there to be bad traffic but trying to get a better sense just how bad. I won’t be crossing the course route, but need to pick up a rental truck near the Rhode Island Ave. Metro and get it back to NOMA near North Capitol St. by 10 am. It’s only a couple of miles, but given traffic is usually bad around NY Ave/Florida/North Capitol and there appear to be only two access points across N. Capitol St., should I expect a significant travel time? Thanks for any insight.

  • FYI, from the website:
    “To request assistance with alternate directions please contact the Rock ‘n’ Roll marathon community relations team by completing the community contact form.”
    runrocknroll.com/ contact/ community-contact/

    I received a response within 30 minutes

  • How am I supposed to get from U St to the hill and then out to Andrews by 8AM. HMMMMM

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