If you’re tired of being jostled all the way through a race, with hardly any breathing room to spare, have I got a race for you. This race, held in mid-November on the scenic C&O Canal just outside Washington DC, attracts only a few hundred runners, but its flat, fast course enabled over 15% of its finishers to qualify for the Boston Marathon this year.

The race is held on the hardpack dirt towpath running alongside the canal, on which mules had pulled barges down the canal 150 years ago, avoiding the rapids of the adjacent Potomac River. Today, the canal is protected parkland, offering safe haven to a variety of wildlife, including the giant blue heron, one of whom made an appearance on race day this year.

The race is a double out-and-back course on the towpath, with three aid stations offering sports drink, water, soda, and oranges on each leg of the journey. Two start times are offered: an early 8 a.m. timed but not competitive race, and a 9 a.m. competitive event. A half-marathon option is offered as well.

While running back and forth twice on a straight, flat, dirt road may not be everyone’s idea of a good time, the beautiful views of the Potomac River more than made up for the lack of spectator support – at least for me – and the post-race pizza wasn’t bad either.

All in all, a nice way to spend the last weekend before Thanksgiving.


About horowitzrun

Jeff is a certified running, cycling, and triathlon coach, and is the author of "My First 100 Marathons" (Skyhorse Press 2008) and "Smart Marathon Training" (Velo Press 2011). An obviously addicted runner, Jeff has run at least one marathon in every state and on 6 continents, including marathons in South Africa, China, Bangkok, and Antarctica. Jeff is available for group, one-on-one, and virtual coaching. Options include: 1. Basic Training Plan. This includes a customized training schedule geared towards a goal race, with a detailed running schedule that would include all distances and target times for each workout, including speedwork, tempo, and endurance sessions. 2. Complete Fitness and Race Plan. This includes the plan listed above, plus the non-running workouts and drills that runners need for better overall fitness and performance. You would get strength & core workouts, as well as run-specific training drills and stretches. 3. Virtual Coaching. This includes all of the above, implemented on a week-by-week basis. We review each week's progress at week's end so that adjustments can be made. The program is tailored to suit you right up to race day. It involves more contact, on a weekly or even daily basis. 4. Full Coaching for athletes in the Washington DC area. All of the above, plus a weekly workout together including speedwork, drills, and strength training. 5. Individual track sessions. One-on-one track-based workouts. Contact Jeff for pricing.
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