Beach Drive would reopen to through traffic after Labor Day under a proposed plan by the National Park Service, which has mostly closed the road since April 2020 to allow for more room for physical distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

NPS is accepting comments until 11:59 p.m. Thursday Aug. 11 on its plan, which would formalize weekday closures between Memorial Day and Labor Day. That would increase the existing policy to close the 4.2-mile stretch on weekends and holidays, but rolls back what had been a nearly-2.5-year closure to allow for more physical distancing during the pandemic. That closure has allowed for a dramatic increase in daily use by runners, cyclists, walkers and more.

“Like many throughout the community, we think NPS should reconsdier reopening upper Beach Drive to cars to maintain an important trail connection through Rock Creek Park throughout the year,” said Kalli Krumpos, manager of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association’s Capital Trails Coalition.

The pandemic and subsequent road closure followed just months after the completion of a three-year, $33 million project to completely rebuild 6.2 miles of Beach Drive between the Maryland line and the bottom of Shoreham Drive. The preference comes despite support from both the D.C. and Montgomery County councils to continue the closure.

“In this decision, we were really trying to strike a balance,” said Rock Creek Park Superintendent Julia Washburn, “to create equity for the various people who need and want to use the road.”

Describing the decision as multi-layered, she cited concerns that increased park use over the last two years had bled into forested areas, where users created their own trails, often with unleashed dogs. Users had notably created pathways between 16th Street NW and Beach.

“We have seen a vast increase in the social trails or basically off-trail use of the park and an increase in dogs off leash in that part of the park throughout the year, so we’re hoping with having the road part of the time open to vehicles during a lot of the year, that may hopefully lead to a decrease of the impacts that we are seeing to the forest and to the habitat,” Washburn said during a July 18 meeting.

Allowing greater pedestrian use during the summer months would coincide with when the vegetation was thickest, discouraging the formation of social paths.

Washburn also recounted concerns that closure to motorized traffic limited enjoyment of the park by users with mobility concerns.

Although the 4.2-mile stretch of Beach Drive was initially closed entirely to traffic, NPS opened portions of the road north of Joyce Road to allow for access to various picnic areas. A total of 2.7 miles of Beach, along with the entirety of Ross Drive and Sherill Drive, are closed to traffic, with sections of 0.6 miles, 0.5 miles and 1.6 miles of Beach Drive closed.

Though NPS considered closing one lane of Beach Drive to allow for non-motorized use, those plans were dismissed out of safety concerns and limitations posed by park police staffing levels.

Washburn stressed that the plan was dynamic and subject to change,

“We’ll be reevaluating at certain times and we have the option to create a different management alternative in the future based on how everything is going,” she said.

However seriously NPS has taken concerns about social trail formation, little to no signage discouraging that behavior has been on display in and around Rock Creek Park over the last two years.

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Welcome to Parks Half Marathon, one of the most beautiful USATF certified courses in the Mid-Atlantic region!

Our race begins just before sunrise on a scenic Montgomery County road and quickly transitions into a tour of beautiful Rock Creek Park. As you run through the park, you’ll experience the sun rising through the tree cover and enjoy the sights and sounds of nature. Mile markers help keep you on track and we also have an excellent pace team ready to help you reach your goals if you’d like.

Our thoughtfully placed hydration stations, complete with awesome volunteers will keep you hydrated and motivated. Everyone always loves our FREE, high quality race photos so be sure to wear a smile along the course because we will have photographers along the way capturing race memories.

At the finish, catch up with your friends to exchange race stories while enjoying an awesome spread of fresh fruit, pizza and egg souffle compliments of one of Montgomery County’s favorite local restaurants, Mamma Lucia’s.

Parks will be on Sunday, September 11. Register now so that you don’t miss out!

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Zebra Dazzle 5k Walk/Run or 100 Mile-30-Day Bike Challenge

Join the Zebras for this Zebra Dazzle event for all fitness levels. The 5k Walk/Run has 2 options: onsite participant on 9/17 at Carter Barron in Rock Creek Park, NW Washington DC or virtual participant. Cash prices will be awarded

The days are getting longer and the weather is getting warmer — which can mean one big thing for the running community: more runners are taking to the region’s sidewalks, paths and trails.

As more runners ditch the treadmill in favor of running outside, there are health and safety reminders to consider. Chief among them is knowing the correlation between warmer temperatures and running risk, said Dr. Wiemi Douoguih, the medical director of MedStar Sports Medicine for the Washington region. Spring can yield some warm-but-not-too-warm running conditions, but “just because the air feels [cooler], you have to be careful,” he said.

Temperatures can feel comfortable and quickly get dangerous as you exercise, he said. Runners need to be careful with outdoor exercise when temperatures are between 73 and 82 degrees, but with higher humidity levels — a foregone conclusion in the D.C. area — temperatures as low as 73 can be high risk, Dr. Douoguih said.

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Running Shorts

  • The “zoo loop” on the Rock Creek Trail is nearing completion, with work potentially being done by the end of July.
  • The current plans for the pedestian expansion of the American Legion Bridge include a ramp to the C&O Canal Towpath but not MacArthur Boulevard.
  • Oakton and American University alumna Keira D’Amato has been named to the U.S. marathon team for the World Track and Field Championships, following Molly Seidel’s injuray withdrawal. The women’s marathon is Monday, July 18 at 9:15 ET. She’s also opening a Potomac River Running store in Richmond.
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VIDA Thrive 5k

The 8th Annual VIDA Thrive 5K event is back in person, happening October 15, 2022 at 8am! We are looking forward to welcoming back runners this year to support Thrive DC.
The new location is along Beach Drive through beautiful

Doubts swirled around my head, and my right quad muscles ached with cramp-like pain. It was only ten miles into the 2021 Philadelphia Marathon but as I watched what felt like hundreds of runners zip past me, I started to recalibrate my pre-race goal: Three hours and 50 minutes became four hours. Then four and a half hours. Then simply finishing.

The race turned into a mental battle. My legs screamed for me to stop and walk, while my brain urged me to continue on pace. The 10th mile would be my slowest up to that point. I tried to find motivation wherever I could. I repeated the mantras, “mind over body” and “don’t run scared,” to myself as I locked on to the runners in front of me. I visualized how satisfying it would feel when I crossed the finish line with another sub-four hour marathon. I thought about my supporters back home who were tracking my race online. 

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Running Shorts

  • Arlington County is accepting feedback on the Arlington Boulevard Trail through Tuesday, July 5.
  • Georgetown alumna Emly Infeld made the U.S. world championships team in the 5,000 meters with her third place finish at the USATF Championships.
  • Laurel resident Juliette Whittaker, who sent the national high school record in the 800 meters in 1:59.04, winning the U.S. U20 championships and making the world team, was named the Gatorade Player of the Year for Outdoor Track for Maryland.
  • Georgetown’s Lucas Guerra made the U.S. U20 world championships team in the 3,000 meters.
  • Washington Latin alumnus Luke Tewalt, racing for Wake Forest, made the U.S. U20 world championships team in the 1,500 meters.
  • Aaron Yoder, world record backward mile holder, will compete in the U.S. Backward Running Track Championship July 9 at Edison High School.
  • Arlington’s Mike Wardian finished his cross-country run to Delaware from San Francisco to raise money for World Vision.
  • St. John’s junior Meredith Gotzman was named the Gatorade Player of the Year for Outdoor Track for Washington, D.C.
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Revenge of the Penguins 10 & 20 Miler

Start/Finish

C&O Canal Towpath, Carderock Recreation Area, Clara Barton Parkway, Carderock MD between Mile post 10 and 11 and finishes at the same place.

Packet Pickup
Sunday, September 19, 6:00 AM -7:45 AM, on site at C&O Canal Tow Path,

Running Shorts

  • The Rock Ceek path has reopened between Shoreham Drive and P Street, and the tunnel through the I-66 bridge south of the Kennedy Center has opened.
  • Three Trials Fever patients will experience relapses in 2024, thanks to their races at Grandma’s Marathon, which qualify them for the Olympic Trials. Reston resident and Falls Chuch native Susanna Sullivan was third in 2:26:56, Thomas Jefferson alumnus Johnny Phillips ran 2:14:10 and Centennial alumnus Brian Harvey ran 2:17:40.
  • The Road Runners Club of America recognized Arlington County was recognized as a “Runner-Friendly Community.”
  • A handful of local distance runners will be competing in the USATF Championships and the USATF U20 Championships this weekend in Eugene, Ore.
    • In the 800 meters, the District Track Club’s Vincent Crisp and Georgetown alumna Sabrina Southerland.
    • In the 1,500 meters, Georgetown’s Matthew Payamps and Jack Salisbury and Georgetown alumna Josette Norris.
    • In the 5,000 meters, Chantilly alumnus Sean McGorty, the District Track Club’s Willy Fink, Heritage alumna Weini Kelati and along with Norris, Georgetown alumnae Emily Infeld and Katrina Coogan.
    • In the 3,000 meter steeplechase, Tuscarora alumnus Fitsum Seyoum.
    • In the U20 meet, Laurel resident Juliette Whittaker will run the 800 meters.
      • Washington Latin alumnus Luke Tewalt will run the 1,500 meters, for Wake Forest.
      • Georgetown’s Lucas Guerra will run the 3,000 meters.
      • In the 3,000 meter steeplechase, Colgan alumnus Bryce Lentz, running for the Air Force Academcy, and Oakton alumnus Garrett Woodhoouse, running for Utah State.
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The only thing better than running 50 miles through D.C. with four friends on an unseasonably cool June day? Running 60 miles with nine friends.

In its second year, the Chocolate City Relay grew both in length and depth June 11, adding a second team of Black women traversing the city in a DIY relay and throwing in a little competitiveness along the way.

“I work in D.C., but I live in Maryland, so I’m not running around here too much,” first-year runner Yodit Tefera said of the Northeast neighborhoods she had just finished running. “Everything is pretty new to me, so I’m getting to know more neighborhoods.”

On top of the 10 women hitting the roads, two drivers and two bicycle guides supported the runners along the way, along with friends along the course and waiting at the Hains Point finish to cheer on all of the runners sharing the 24th leg.

Dira Hansen watched from afar the last year and hoped to take part.

“When I saw them finish last year, I thought it was awesome,” she said. “So I kind of Insta-stalked them and hoped they’d do it again and invite me.”

 

I can’t get the map to embed to save my life, but click here to see it in more detail

They invited her, and she added a competitive element to a lineup that pitted newcomers against the veterans. The newcomers touted Hansen’s sub-three-hour finish at the Shamrock Marathon in March and helped her warm up with some strides along Mt. Olivet Road NE before she took the handoff and sped down West Virginia Avenue NE.

Though the teams — veterans in blue, rookies in pink, started together, before too long, competitive instincts took over and turned the event into a cat-and-mouse game, aided somewhat by a drizzle that kept drivers off the road and opened some road crossings faster than usual.

Though all of the runners participate in traditional races, veteran runner Alison Staples noted, the event generally takes on a more community-based, cooperative effort, and PRs take a back seat.

“This is more special because we put it together, the support team has volunteered to come out and help,” she said. “It’s been incredible for sisterhood, enjoying each other’s company and celebrating that we are all healthy enough to run.”

Staples moved to D.C. from Baltimore in 2021, and after striking up a social media friendship with Brittany Greene, Greene recruited her into the inaugural relay.

“There were a lot of women doing amazing things, but we didn’t all necessarily cross paths in our worlds, so finding a way to bring everyone together in a way that amplifies our stories was important and gets people into new areas exploring D.C.,” Greene said.

She mapped out a course that crossed all eight wards of the city, but added roughly 10 miles in Ward 8, in Southeast D.C.

“We tried to use rec centers and schools as landmarks, to give people a framework for what’s in D.C.,” she said. “We wanted to add a level of challenge, and the ladies were up for that, so everyone got some more hills.”

In addition to the 10 runners, five planned to complete a virtual relay. After gas and supplies were paid for fundraising went to Girls on the Run programs, where a several relay runners volunteer as coaches.

In between legs on the rookie team, Courtney Carter marveled at the way Greene and her friends made the event happen

“To have this home-grown, locally-created relay that’s doubled in size and to get to do this with these amazing women and our support, it’s super meaningful, it’s super dope, and people are excited about it.

“It means a lot, we all know how important representation is and we know that we need more of it in the running space. And it’s just a way of claiming space, and I’m a fan of that.”

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