Best of Washington Running 2017

The Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Expo at the National Building Museum. Photo courtesy of Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile
The Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Expo at the National Building Museum. Photo courtesy of Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile

Thank you to everyone who voted for the Best of Washington Running this year! We had to keep the voting to a month and a half to accommodate our publishing deadline, but we also had more than three times as many votes cast than in 2016.

Best Pre-race Expo and Bib Pickup

Cherry Blossom Ten Mile – National Building Museum
The National Building Museum has played host to the Cherry Blossom expo since 2008, when race director Phil Stewart and his then-deputy Irv Newman realized the race had outgrown hotel ballrooms.

Deputy Race Director Becky Lambros, who manages the expo, acknowledges that the race is a much different lessee the museum staff are accustomed, but they welcomed the runners and throughout the intervening years they have become a true partner in our event,” she said. “The soaring venue, location close to the metro and the wonderful staff have made the expo at the
National Building Museum a wonderful place to start race weekend.”

And, for out-of-towners, it helps them check another museum off their lists.


Marine Corps Marathon before its move to the National Harbor — Washington Convention Center and D.C. Armory
Army Ten-Miler — D.C. Armory


Best 10 mile

Cherry Blossom
Early April, Washington Monument, Washington, D.C.


Army Ten-Miler
Oct. 8, The Pentagon, Arlington, Va.
George Washington Parkway Classic
April 23, Mount Vernon, Va.


Best 10 mile

Cherry Blossom – Early April, Washington Monument, Washington, D.C.



Army Ten-Miler – Oct. 8, The Pentagon, Arlington, Va.

George Washington Parkway Classic
April 23, Mount Vernon, Va.


Best Natural Surface Trail

C&O Canal Towpath



Manassas Battlefields

Great Falls National Park


Best Paved Path

Capital Crescent Trail



Washington & Old Dominion Trail

Mount Vernon Trail


Best D.C. perk

The scenery


Number of trails

Variety of races



Gena Mitchell and her daughter, Devin, at the 2015 Race4Respect. Photo courtesy of Gena Mitchell
Gena Mitchell and her daughter, Devin, at the 2015 Race4Respect. Photo courtesy of Gena Mitchell


Best 5k

Race 4 Respect – Sat. June 3, Freedom Plaza, Washington, D.C.

When most races begin the planning process, they start small with an eye toward growth in the future and try to cut disruptions to a minimum. Not Gena Mitchell; she wanted to stop traffic. When setting out to plan the D.C. area’s first Down Syndrome-related event, she wanted it to be less of a fundraiser and more an event for every participant to remember.

“So many ’cause’ races raise money to wipe something out, eradicate something,” she said. “We want to celebrate what our children and people with Down Syndrome can do.”

So having the race in downtown D.C. was a must, starting at Freedom Plaza and heading down Pennsylvania Avenue past the Capitol. Mitchell also wanted it to serve the competitive racing community, partially to bring people into the community but also to establish the race’s viability

“If the race we built the event around wasn’t worthwhile, the whole thing would feel hollow,” she said. “I just wanted to do a great job with it and for people to have a good time and want to come back next year.”

Most of the proceeds go into the event, though special education grants are awarded to the largest school-based team and the nine regional Down Syndrome networks.


Jingle all the Way – Dec. 10, Washington Monument, Washington, D.C.

Crystal City Twilighter – July 22, Crystal City, Arlington, Va.



Best Maryland Specialty Running Store

Fleet Feet Sports — Gaithersburg – 255 Kentlands Blvd Gaithersburg, MD 20878 – 301-926-6442

Fleet Feet Sports- Gaithersburg also won the 2015 Best of Washington Running Best Maryland Speciality Running Store, the only other time that category was contested.


Chevy Chase Running Company – 4461 Willard Ave, Chevy Chase, MD 20815 – 301-215-6355

RnJ Sports — Rockville – 11910 Parklawn Dr R, Rockville, MD 20852 – 301-881-0021


Best D.C. Specialty Running Store

Potomac River Running — D.C. – 919 F St., NW Washington, DC 20004 – 202-393-8500

Near Ford’s Theater is a dicey place to sell running shoes, but Potomac River Running has thrived by being right in the thick of the downtown business district and pretty close to the National Mall, where no doubt hundreds of tourists discover, halfway through their visits, that their old busted sneakers aren’t going to last at the pace they’re walking around the nation’s capital.


Pacers — 14th Street – 1821 14th Street NW, Washington, DC 20009 – 202-506-2029

Georgetown Running Company – 3401 M St NW, Washington, DC 20007 – 202-337-8626


Best Virginia Specialty Running Store

The Running Store — Gainesville – 7343 Atlas Walkway, Gainesville, Va. – 703-753-4470

Former professional runner Ian Connor has taken the reins of Gainesville’s running specialty store, which will be celebrating its 10th anniversary this November.


Potomac River Running — Reston – 11911 Democracy Dr., Reston VA 20190 – 703-689-0999
Pacers — Alexandria – 1301 King Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 – 703-836-1463


Best Running Club

Montgomery County Road Runners Club

Top to bottom, the Montgomery County Road Runners Club owns suburban Maryland running. With a designated back-of-the-pack group, it ensures that eveyone has a place in is variety of training programs, while at the same time members of the club’s competitive racing teams go shoulder-to-shoulder with some of the region’s fastest. The club also plays host to races of all types, from track miles to two (technically three) ultras.  


D.C. Road Runners 

District Running Collective


Best Running-related Nonprofit

Girls on the Run – – –

At a time in a child’s development when social dynamics can muddy the waters of personal growth, Girls on the Run offers lessons in good health, happiness and confidence all based around the joy of running. Girls in grades 3-8 meet before or after school with volunteer coaches and train for the 5k that closes every season. The national organization is in its 21st year, the D.C. area is home to three chapters- D.C. Northern Virginia and Montgomery County, with the Piedmont (Virginia), Greater Chesapeake, Frederick County and Central Maryland chapters a little farther out.


Back on my Feet

Team RWB


Best Coach p.17

Best Coach

Kathy Pugh – –

Already a successful private coach and a volunteer coach for the D.C. Road Runners, Kathy Pugh took charge of the club’s entire training program last year and impressed club President Rich Mendelowitz with her responsiveness to individual needs.

“She understands running, the biomechanics, the structural issues, the anatomy, but she really listens to what people want and what their goals are,” he said. “She thoroughly explains to a group or individuals what you need to do, and in detail.”

Perhaps her greatest coaching job, Trish Peva points out, is successfully running with her daughter, Ava.

“As a mother of two teenage girls myself, I know that that is truly monumental,” Peva said.


Julie Sapper and Lisa Reichmann

Dustin Sweeney



Best Physical Therapist or Clinician

ProAction Physical Therapy – 11820 Parklawn Drive, Suite 120 – Rockville, MD 20852 – 301-881-CARE

Rockville-based ProAction Physical Therapy is a perennial contender for the Best of Washington Running, with Rachel Miller winning Best Physical Therapist in 2014 and her partner Ken Fleit finishing second that year, and Miller finishing as runner up in 2016.


Peter Sherry Sports Massage – 11319 Sunset Hills Road, Reston, VA 20190 – 703-587-8403

Washington Wellness Physical Therapy – 1100 H St NW, Suite LL-110, Washington, DC 20005 – 202-347-2373

Best Running Club p. 16

Best 10k

Pike’s Peek – April 23, Shady Grove Metro Station, Rockville, Md.

If you aren’t running Boston or the George Washington Parkway Classic, chances are you’re thinking about trying for a 10k PR at Pike’s Peek. Though the course changes in recent years have made the downhill route a little less ridiculous, several of the miles leave runners feeling like there’s little-to-no consequence of just running all out.


St. Patrick’s 10k – March 3, Washington Monument, Washington, D.C.

Capitol Hill Classic – May 21, Stanton Park, Washington, D.C.


Best Ultramarathon

North Face Endurance Challenge – late April, Algonkian Regional Park, Sterling, Va.

A popular ultra offers a 50 mile and a 50k, along with a few other races for shorter distance runners, like marathoners, who aren’t quite ready for the big time. It weaves through the Potomac Heritage Trail starting in Sterling and reaches Great Falls Park. 


Bull Run Run 50 – Early April, Hemlock Overlook Regional Park, Clifton, Va.

Stone Mill 50 – Nov. 11, Stedwick Elementary School, Montgomery Village, Md.


Best course

Marine Corps Marathon – Oct. 22, The Pentagon, Arlington, Va.

Some say it’s the triumphant climb up the hill to the Iwo Jima memorial. Others love looping the Mall. Or running on Spout Run Parkway.  It’s not the fastest course, and a windy day on the 14th Street Bridge can back that point up, but it’s comfortable, reliable and

It’s also subject to permits from a variety of local governments and agencies, and when the Metro SafeTrack restrictions tightened the window for runners to reach the starting line in 2016, Operations Manager Bret Schmidt managed to rework the course to give people a little extra time to get to the line while also opening the 14th Street Bridge as scheduled.


Cherry Blossom Ten-Mile – Early April, Washington Monument, Washington, D.C.

Prince William Half Marathon – Oct. 1, Jiffy Lube Live, Bristow, Va.




Best of spread 3
Runners navigate Columbia Heights during the 2016 Rock ‘n’ Roll D.C. Half Marathon. RunWashington photo by Dustin Whitlow/ D/Whit Photography

Best Half Marathon

Rock ‘n’ Roll D.C. – March 17, Smithsonian National Museum of American History, Washington, D.C.

From its roots as the National Half Marathon, the Rock ‘n’ Roll D.C. Half Marathon serves as a rust buster for many runners targeting a Spring marathon or as a target to get people through the usually-tough Winter months.

The course is tough, but fair. Remember, when thinking about climbing Shoreham Drive out of Rock Creek Park, that you get to barrel down to the reservoir a few miles later.

It’s true tour of D.C. From the Mall, to Rock Creek Parkway, through Columbia Heights, H Street and Capitol Hill. And how many other races pass right down residential streets?


Navy-Air Force Half Marathon – Sept, 17, Washington Monument, Washington, D.C.

Prince William Half Marathon – Oct. 1, Jiffy Lube Live, Bristow, Va.


Best place to take a visitor for a run in D.C.

The National Mall


Rock Creek Park

Tidal Basin


Best place to take a visitor for a run in Maryland

C&O Canal Towpath


Great Falls

Seneca Creek State Park


Best place to take a visitor for a run in Virginia

Mount Vernon Trail


Great Falls National Park

Manassas Battlefields



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