As the Nation's capitol, Washington, DC and the surrounding area, is home to a large contingent of active military members, veterans, and their families. Running is an integral aspect of training, making racing a popular activity. And military focused running events give civilians the opportunity to sweat it out side-by-side with members of the armed forces.
Here's a rundown of some local military-themed running races happening this fall. Get ready to work hard and feel patriotic pride as you see if you have what it takes to persevere at one of these classic events.
1. The Navy Mile on Pennsylvania Avenue
October 4, 2015
The mile used to be one of America's favorite race distances, thanks in large part to Jim Ryun's famous world-record performances of 3:51.30 and 3:51.10 in the 1960s. But the race distance slowly lost its luster. In the 1980s, high schools were switching to the metric mile of 1,600 meters—nine meters short of an actual mile.
There's been a resurgence in mile races across the country in recent years, with organizations like Bring Back the Mile leading the charge. The Navy Mile is another step in the mile's progression back near the top of America's racing scene.
The course is simple: Starting in front of the Navy Memorial, runners head down Pennsylvania Avenue, turn in front of the Capitol Building, and head back to where they started.
"To many, the mile has an almost mystical aura to it," says Charles Hautau, President, National Capital Council of the Navy League. "Roger Bannister's successful effort to eclipse the four-minute barrier, Jim Ryun's feats as a high school student and Olympian; even local favorites Alan Webb and Matt Centrowitz are all notable. We hope to bring it back at the local level!"
Hautau adds that the Navy Mile will serve as a kickoff to the U.S. Navy's 240th birthday celebration, and there will be plenty of activities to do other than run.
For more, visit navymile.com.
2. Marine Corps Marathon
October 25, 2015
The Marine Corps Marathon is the crown jewel of all the DC-area races. The 26.2-mile route begins and ends in Arlington, VA, but it snakes into DC and goes through historic Georgetown before breezing past several monuments and the Capitol Building.
The race has surged in popularity in recent years, and has been forced to institute a lottery system for registration. The lottery for the 2015 race took place in March—so mark your calendar for 2016 if you'd like to tackle this fun and patriotic event.
"The Marine Corps Marathon is a marquee event not only for the running community but for the nation's capitol," race spokesperson Tami Faram says. "Known as 'The People's Marathon,' the Marine Corps Marathon includes participants of all backgrounds and abilities to embark on the 26.2 mile journey together in celebration of fitness."
"The Marine Corps Marathon and U.S. Marines annually host the event to promote health and fitness while generating community goodwill," added Faram, who said there will be 30,000 runners from 58 countries at this year's race.
For more, visit marinemarathon.com.
3. Loudoun 10K Trail Race
November 8, 2015
This event stands out from other military races in the DC area for two reasons: It's a trail run, and it's a lower-key event, with a cap of 200 runners in the field.
Those attributes are also what make this race, which has been in existence since 2012, such a good event.
The challenging, two-loop course doesn't have any flat sections—it either goes up or down. Runners have to climb a difficult hill twice, once around the 1.5-mile mark and again before the finish line. The terrain is anything but easy, with mud, rocks, roots, and other hazards lying in wait—so keep your eyes peeled.
Taking place at Camp Highroad in Middleburg, VA, the race benefits the Boulder Crest Retreat, an organization that helps members of the military and their families adjust to life back in the states if they were seriously wounded in combat. The 2014 race brought in $27,000.
"It is easy to give back, in time and monetary donations, to those brave men and women who have given so much in the protection of our country and our cherished way of life," says race director Jim Schatz. "Time is the most valuable thing we can give to someone else, and the members of the Loudoun Road Runners club and our race volunteers are happy to give that time for this cause."
For more, visit trailrun.loudounroadrunners.org.
4. Veterans Day 10K and Walk
November 8, 2015
This annual event traverses Hains Point , a popular running spot in DC along the Potomac River. The fast and flat course is a great place to set a PR, and running with America's veterans in mind is a great cause.
If running a 10K isn't your thing, sign up for the 2-mile walk around the Tidal Basin.
The race "is a great event that attracts many members of the military to participate. It offers a very scenic, flat and fast course with inspiring views of the Monuments, the Tidal Basin, and the Potomac River," says Jordan Mittelman, the marketing director of event organizer Pacers Running.
Mittelman adds that the race donates "a portion of proceeds to benefit the Paralyzed Veterans of America."
For more, visit runpacers.com.