The DMV Distance Derby, RunWashington’s substitute for a robust road racing season, has recorded 677 times for 22 segments since May 2020. Using the Strava app, runners can run a variety of distances on courses throughout the D.C. area at a time of their choosing to earn bragging rights. Often, they are a break from the tranditional 5k, 10k, etc. distances common in road racing.
The 2.5-mile Hains Point segment, clockwise between the gates in East Potomac Park, has seen the most action with 80 men and 45 women trying. Brian Rich (12:34) and Nina Zarina (13:30) hold the leads so far. Others are ripe for more attempts, with only a few people running the WB&A Trail and the Washington’s Birthday Marathon loop in Prince George’s County, Kenwood in Montgomery County or the National Aboretum.
Even if you don’t run all out in an attempt to set a personal best, these courses are also an opportunity to try running in a new place.
We’ll be doing a full year, running through April 30, and I will write glowing profiles of the runners with the most segment leads over that time.
More about the Distance Derby:
As you may have noticed, we don’t have many races happening for a while.
For the rest of 2020 and until the end of April 2021, RunWashington’s rankings are going to change to the next best thing – Strava segments. Since we can’t all get together in one place and go shoulder-to-shoulder, the next best thing will be to compare performances on the same turf at the DMV Distance Derby.
I have picked out 23 different segments throughout the D.C. area that involve little-to-no interaction with traffic, or they travel through residential neighborhoods. If there are road crossings, they are early enough in the segment as to allow a runner to restart before too long. Most of these segments were also chosen to help runners avoid congestion. I’ve tried to lend some geographic balance, while also making use of the open roads and paths where runners going after times won’t make things too hectic for everyone else. Some segments have been around for a while, and some came from routes I ran specifically to create a new segment. Some are a little uphill, some are downhill. Some come from cool parts of race courses. Some a routes I think are fun and others might enjoy. Given the less formal nature of the project, they’re a little shorter than the races we have historically ranked. If you have others for me to consider, submit them to [email protected].
Segments record total elapsed time, so any breaks you take will be included in your segment time. Some of the stopping and starting points can be a little wonky, but I tried to clarify them as much as I could.
All you need is a GPS watch and a free Strava account, which allows for various privacy settings (more on that later). Join the RunWashington group here, and make sure your age is part of your profile if you would like to be classified in age group rankings.
You don’t like using Strava on a daily basis? Great! Don’t! Use it only for segment attempts, it will be like signing up for a race: you opt in. If you do engage privacy controls, just make sure to set that particular activity to public after you have completed it for it to count, otherwise it won’t show up.
One more thing: given how important physical distancing is to limiting the spread of the novel coronavirus, and to make sure everyone is on a level playing field, don’t run these with anyone else.
The challenge will go from May 1 to the end of December and we’ll update the segment leaderboards monthly, with 10-year age groups (and a five-year age group for those collegiate/postcollegiate runers). Maybe we’ll do special race weekend highlights, like holiday weekends in May, July, September, October and November. Maybe I’ll add a marathon course for the fall.
As for a way to check the leaderboards daily, I’m still figuring out a shortcut, but you can click on “RunWashington” under “my clubs” and then select “this month.” I’m really hoping I can make that easier…
Here are the courses:
- 0.56 miles – Klingle Valley Trail, Cleveland Park, D.C. The start of this one is always a little off, so it’s safest to start at the bottom of Porter and run on the right side of the trail to the bollards at the top
- 0.75 miles – Anacostia Park loop, Anacostia, D.C. One counterclockwise loop of the road around the skating rink.
- 1 mile – RFK Way, RFK Stadium. D.C. Run. On D.C. Access Road, not the bike path, start at the gate at Barney Circle and run on the right side of the road to the East Capitol Street Bridge.
- 1.1 miles – Sorrel and Spicewood, Potomac, Md. – It’s almost all downhill, the fun part of the Autism Speaks 5k. Start on Sorrel at Woodford, head down the hill to Spicewood, take a right and run all the way to Newbridge.
- 1.2 miles – Smelling Big Stinky, starting at Michigan Ave NE, head up John McCormack Road NE, pass the Fort Totten transfer station and finish a few steps short of the gate.
- 1.3 miles – Teddy Roosevelt Island, technically D.C. but accessible via Virginia. One counterclockwise loop of the island, starting at the bridge from the parking lot.
- 1.4 miles – W&OD Trail, Park to Cedar, Vienna, Va. The name says it all.
- 1.5 miles – Colorado, starting at 16th Street NW, run on the south lane of Colorado Ave NW, follow the outside of the cul de sac clockwise and take the north lane back to 16th Street NW.
- 1.75 – Germantown Soccerplex, Germantown, Md. Run on the right, right at the circle, stopping at Burdet. All the fun of the start of Riley’s Rumble without the last few miles of climbing.
- 2.5 miles – Hains Point, East Potomac Park, D.C. Start at the gate on the Washington Channel side, follow the road around the tip and up along the Potomac River to the gate at Buckeye Drive.
- 2.6 miles – MacArthur Bike Path – Persimmon Tree to Walhonding, Cabin John, Md. Stay on the Bike Path closest to the road, including near Glen Echo Park.
- ~2.9 miles – Custis Climb – Key Bridge to Glebe, Arlington, Va. Starting at N. Lynn Street, ending at Glebe, uphill.
- 3 miles – Kenwood, Kenwood, Md. This one seems confusing, but makes sense once you’ve run it. Start on Kennedy at Dorset, run up to Chamberlain and take that as far as you can go, to Garnet, and take a left. This will eventually become Highland. Take a left at the bottom of the hill, at Brookside, but be ready for oncoming, slow traffic, which you can dodge on the median. Head up Brookside, run clockwise around the circle, and back down Brookside, taking a left on Lawn. Take that to Kenwood, take a left, go halfway around the circle clockwise, head up the hill on Kenwood, take a left on Highland at the top, and left on Dorset, finishing at Kennedy. See? Easy.
- 3.3 miles – W&OD Trail – the Nexus of the Universe – Dry Mill to Dry Mill, Leesburg, Va. Start at Dry Mill in Leesburg, finish at Dry Mill at Clarke’s Gap.
- ~3.9 miles – Franklin Park, McLean, Va. This one is very hilly, but the roads are usually empty. Start at the corner of Virginia and N. Nottingham. Head down Virginia, bearing to the right, then taking a right on Rhode Island and the next left on Massachusetts. Take a right on Vermont, and another on Valley Wood, which will become 37th. Keep following it as it rounds a bend, then take a right on Kensington and a right two blocks later on 35th. Two blocks later take a left on N. Nottingham, then a right on Rockingham. At the bottom of the hill, take a left onto Rhode Island, a right at the top of the hill at Rockingham, a right on Virginia, a left on Nottingham and back to the start.
- ~4.22 miles – Beach Drive, north, Rock Creek Park, D.C. Uphill, start at the gates at Broad Branch Road and run on the right side of the road to the Maryland state line.
- ~4.22 miles – Beach Drive, south, Rock Creek Park, D.C. Downhill: go the other way. Cross the gate at Broad Branch on the footpath to the right when you finish.
- 4.25 miles – Burke Lake, Fairfax Station, Va.. Start at the trail entrance at the marina parking lot and follow the trail clockwise around the lake.
- Just short of 5 miles – W&BA Trail – Glenn Dale to the end, Prince George’s County, Md. Start at Glenn Dale Boulevard, run east until the end of the trail overlooking the creek.
- Just over 10k – Arboretum 10k, Washington, D.C. Start at the R Street entrance sign, run counterclockwise at the top of Mount Hamilton and finish at the cross “street” heading to the closed gate. Trust me, it’s easier to follow the segment map…
- ~7.1 miles – Downhill on the Capital Crescent Trail, starting in Bethesda and finishing at the Key Bridge. There are two things to keep in mind: the Key Bridge is under the Whitehurst Freeway past the trailhead gate and Little Falls Parkway is closed to traffic on the weekends, leaving one low-speed intersection- Dorset Ave, about a mile in, as the only major hazard.
- 7.3 miles – George Washington’s Birthday loop, Beltsville, Md. Start on Beaverdam Road at Log Lodge Road, run east to the dramatic left at Springfield Road, left of Powder Mill Road and left on Log Lodge Road, ending at Beaverdam.
- 10 miles – Anacostia Riverwalk Trail, Colmar Manor, Md. to Anacostia Park, D.C. Start on 37th Street outside of Colmar Manor Park, and head straight in, following Oak Street. When you reach the last parking lot, take a left around the brown post and a right down the hill. Cross the footbridge and follow the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail to Kenilworth Park. Just past the track, take a left, past the handball wall and take a right on 40th Street, then run clockwise around the circle and back into the park, on Deane Street. Cross the concrete barrier to continue straight at Deane becomes a dirt road, then take a right back onto the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail. When you come off the bridge in Anacostia Park, take a right on the road, do one counterclockwise loop of the staking rink and continue south on Anacostia Road. Pass under the MLK Bridge, take the immediate left and finish under Anacostia Parkway.
- 20 miles – Dual Ferries, Poolesville, Md. A 10 mile loop in Poolesville, done twice.The segment begins and ends at the gate near the lockhouse at Edward’s Ferry. Head west on the towpath to White’s Ferry, then take the immediate right onto River Road and follow it back to Edward’s Ferry. Repeat.