The George Washington Parkway Classic Ten Mile Run is one of Bill’s and my favorite races, and it has been a staple for area runners since 1984. After being bused to the start at Mount Vernon, runners run back down the George Washington Parkway to Old Town Alexandria. The first part of the race is a gentle downhill, with the only real hill climbs near the end as you approach and run into Old Town. The race runs parallel to the Potomac River with breath-taking views during much of the run. Depending on the year, you might be treated to blooming dogwoods and redbud trees, or almost fully leafed-out trees. The only drawback to the race is that the GW Parkway is concrete and your legs will be beaten up by the end of ten miles. For the beauty of this race, it’s worth it though.
My first year of running the GW Parkway Ten Miler was in 1999. I ran it with my running friends Miles, Mike, and probably some of the other guys from our “Wednesday lunch-time track group.” We rode the buses down to Mount Vernon and had to wait for what seemed like forever for the race to start. The porta potty-to-runner ratio seemed less back then and I remember seeing runners peeing in the woods behind the porta potties. You can always tell if a guy is peeing even if you’re looking at him from behind (which isn’t always the case in a race). They’ve got their legs spread shoulder width apart, knees slightly bent, are in pelvic tilt, have one hand on the hip, and you can’t see the other hand. It’s so obvious what they’re doing.
I remember running much of the race with Miles, but I don’t see him in the finish line photos. I’m in a green top, with Mike next to me, rounding the curve for our final stretch to the finish line.
And just like that, the race seemed over as quickly as it started. It was a very fun morning that included lots of gabbing with my friends, and a very relaxed run in perfect running weather. We finished in 1:18:46 (8:27 minute/mile pace).
That year our 11-year old Joseph ran in the three-mile race. Bill and Daniel didn’t run, but cheered us on and took pictures.
After a ten year sabbatical from running the GW Parkway Classic we returned in 2009 with several of the Cruisers.
The shirts had changed from cotton to technical and the were available in women’s cut. This particular shirt quickly became my favorite in my ever growing pile of race shirts! Beth and I ran the whole race together and finished in 1:30:38 (9:03 minute/mile pace).
We loved the race so much that we signed up again in 2010. The race was only six days after my Boston Marathon and my legs were still pretty trashed so I decided not to run. The Cruisers had already planned to meet at IHOP after the race to talk about our GW Parkway and Boston experiences, so Bill and I joined the rest of the crew for a fun breakfast.
In 2011 I decided that I needed to redeem myself for my 2010 DNS (did not start), so Bill and I registered for the race again. Lolly, one of my clients , turned friend, turned runner, joined the Cruisers for the race, her longest yet.
As we often do, we meet at a central location to drive to the race together. At zero-dark-thirty I snapped this picture in the parking lot before we took off.
As I mentioned before, runners are bused from Old Town Alexandria to Mount Vernon for the start of the race. The best part is that they don’t use school buses for transportation. They use luxury buses; and here Beth and Jerome are enjoying a very comfortable ride on plush reclinable seats!
Even better than comfortable seats… the on-board bathrooms!
And speaking of on-board bathrooms, when we got to the race start we saw this lady walking around with this sign and a megaphone announcing that she was directing runners to the porta potties. Of course, these well-hydrated Cruiser Chicks had to have a picture taken with her! And BTW, don’t you just love my ratty old throw-away jacket and pants?
Before the start of the race, we gathered for a group picture in front of the Mount Vernon Shop.
Again, Beth and I stayed together for the whole race. We were on the lookout for my friend Barb who said she’d be along the course cheering us on. She had her new puppy Obbie, an Australian shepherd, with her and it was love at first sight! I immediately made Obbie the official mascot of the Cruisers!
And because you can never have too many puppy pictures, here’s another picture of just Barb and me.
And of just Obbie…
The Cruisers all had a great time, and Beth and I finished together in 1:45:03 (10:30 minute/mile pace). Here’s a happy Deb and Bill after the race in the parking garage just before we headed home.
2012 was the year we almost didn’t run…
We had a large group of Cruisers sign up for the 2012 race, and we even got hotel rooms near the race to save time on race morning. We drove over Saturday afternoon and had a group carbo-loading dinner at a great Italian restaurant in Old Town. Bill was working on a major proposal and wasn’t able to join us until later that evening, after we’d headed back to the hotel. As the evening wore on, and the cosmos flowed, we almost talked ourselves out of running the next morning! Honestly – it’s a miracle any of us woke up, but somehow we all managed to make the race, except for one Cruiser whose phone battery died and his alarm didn’t go off. He woke up in time to run the 5K and then met us after we finished the ten-miler.
Just like the previous year, my friend Barb and Obbie were waiting for us along the course. And even though Obbie looks like he’s thinking I’d be a tasty morsel, he really was happy to see me. I couldn’t believe how big he’d gotten!
This race fell just a month after the Rock ‘N’ Roll USA Marathon that I had to skip because of my back injury. This was my come-back race, and even though it took us 2:29:23 (14:56 minute/mile pace) in a steady drizzle, Lolly stayed with me while I walked almost the entire course. We ran for two minutes at the beginning of every mile, and even managed to run for about four minutes to finish the race.
Here are the race bibs that I still have from this race…
You can read my recap of the 2013 George Washington Parkway Classic Ten Miler here.
Overall this is a great race, and one that I would highly recommend! There’s good crowd support at various places along the way, and it’s wonderfully loud as you run the last few blocks to the finish. The post race atmosphere is always a lot of fun, too!
- Have you ever run one of the GW Parkway races?
- What’s your favorite repeat race?
- Who’s racing this weekend?