Parks Half Marathon

Sun September 26, 2021 Rockville, MD 20850 US Directions
2021 Runner Instructions

The 16th Annual Parks Half Marathon takes place on Sunday, September 26th. The race will take you through a scenic course traversing Rock Creek Park and ending with a festive post-race bash at the finish line on Beach Drive just south of the Grosvenor Metro.

The race is a result of several organizations - the Montgomery County Road Runners, the Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission, and our fantastic sponsors, working together to deliver a half-marathon in the crown jewel of Montgomery County – Rock Creek Park. We are supported by many energetic sponsors and volunteers all with the same mission –  to deliver a fun and challenging race. But enough about why we’re doing this, here’s what you’ll want to know for the weekend.

COVID-19 Information

While masks are not currently required outdoors, we do ask all participants to be sensitive to those around you whose comfort level or health situation may be different than yours, especially with our younger volunteers or others who may not have the ability to be vaccinated.  As a condition of our race permit, social distancing is STILL required.  We strongly encourage all participants to keep a mask with you for use any time proper social distancing cannot be achieved.

Now more than ever, please pay close attention to your health prior to attending this event.  If you have been exposed to COVID-19, or another person with COVID-19, please stay home. If you have cold symptoms, a mild fever, or "just don't feel well," we ask that you please stay home.  All participants are subject to temperature checks by our race staff, if applicable.

Where To Stay

We can suggest the following, which are located within proximity to the race:

Hilton Garden Inn Rockville-Gaithersburg
14975 Shady Grove Road, Rockville, Maryland, 20850, (240) 507-1800

Courtyard by Marriott Rockville
2500 Research Blvd, Rockville, MD 20850-3209, (844) 631-0595 

Sheraton Rockville Hotel 
920 King Farm Blvd, Rockville, MD 20850-6610, (240) 912-8200

Packet Pickup

*** FACE MASKS MUST BE WORN INDOORS AT PACKET PICKUP, per the Montgomery County Government COVID-19 Portal.

Where: RnJ Sports located at 11910-R Parklawn Drive, Rockville, MD 20852

When: Friday, September 24th and Saturday, September 25th from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm. The store closes at 6:00 pm.  Late packet pickup will be held on race morning from 5:45 am to 6:30 am on Sommerville Road, outside the Metro parking lot.  Participants are STRONGLY encouraged to use advanced packet pickup at RnJ Sports.

What to bring to Packet Pickup

  • Proof of identity - If you don’t know who you are, how are we supposed to know?  Please bring proof of identify. You may pick up a bib for a friend or the entire neighborhood, if you are so inclined.
  • Your bib number - Bib numbers will be posted outside RnJ Sports on the window.  You may also check your bib number on our website using the Participant Lookup tool.  Please note that late registrant bibs may not be immediately reflected on our website.  To make this process as expeditious as possible, please obtain your bib number before entering the store.

Used Shoe Collection

We are NOT doing a used shoe collection during the 2021 event, so please leave those at home.

What to Take FROM Packet Pickup

Yes, this is necessary and yes, this happens.  Please be sure you leave Packet Pickup with:

  • Your race bib and timing tag (will be attached to the back of your bib)
  • One sweet Parks Half Marathon running shirt
  • Previous years' Parks swag that you purchased at insanely low prices
  • Safety pins
  • All your personal belongings, including any spouse(s) or children you arrived with

Be sure to look around and make some purchased while you are at RnJ!  If it applies to you, Kelly, the Owner, is one of the best sports bra fitters around!)

Race Day Packet Pickup

Late packet pickup will be held on race morning from 5:45 am to 6:30 am on Sommerville Road, outside the Metro parking lot.  Again, participants are STRONGLY encouraged to use advanced packet pickup at RnJ Sports.

Please understand that this will be a very busy morning and we will be very limited in our ability to address additional issues, questions, special needs, or participants of an overly-obsessed and high maintenance nature the morning of the race. In fact, it will be very early and not all of our volunteers will have not have switched over to their warm, huggy, and fuzzy mode. If there is even the nost remote chance that you can get to advance Packet Pickup prior to race day, you are urged to do so, as you will be greeted by smiling faces (unlike those on Sunday morning), get first dibs on the very nice race premiums, and will have all of your questions answered with a smile and a wink (…really, unlike those on Sunday morning). You will also have a great opportunity to make any changes or corrections to your registration if needed…  we unfortunately do not guarante the same for those who choose to wait until Sunday morning.

Should the forecast for race morning show inclement weather, lines will be longer and response times will be slower.  PLEASE make an extra effort to attend advance Packet Pickup!

Timing Information

This years’ “timing chip” will be attached to the back of your numbered bib. This bib must be worn on the front of your body- not in a pocket or on your back. FOR MCRRC MEMBERS – DO NOT USE YOUR LOW KEY MEMBER MCRRC CHIP, OR BIB, FOR THIS RACE. 

Getting to the Start

Parking will be available in the Shady Grove Metro lot, which is free on the weekend.  PARKING IS NOT AVAILABLE IN THE NEIGHBORHOODS NEAR THE STARTING LINE!

Bag Check

We’ll be glad to take your bag!  We’ll even give you the bag. Baggage Check will be located near Packet Pickup on Sommerville, before you get to Redland Road, the morning of the race. This is just beyond the Metro parking lot. We will need to see your bib number for you to use this service. Bags must be dropped off by 6:35 am and will be waiting for you at the finish line.  Once your bag is checked, you will not be able to retrieve it until after you complete the race.  Backpacks or bags weighing over 5lbs, as well as bags containing liquids, will not be accepted. No bikes, strollers, infant car seats, obnoxious spouses or children will be accepted at bag check. You must have your race bib to retrieve your bag at the finish area, so be sure to keep it with you. 

For security & liability reasons, please do not check the following items:

* liquids
* electronics, including phones 
* large bags or bags weighing more than 5 pounds
* valuables
* breakables
* anything you need during the race (shoes, race bib, etc.)

Race officials and/or law enforcement may refuse or destroy any bag or contents deemed suspicious.  We encourage you to make plans in advance to meet friends and family at a specific time and place so you won’t need your phone; it would be a shame if your Miley Cyrus ringtone caused us to blow up your bag.

Where do I go if I 'gotta go?'

You’re not alone, but you will be if you go anywhere other than in one of port-o-pots lined up near the starting line. We’re guests in the neighborhoods surrounding the starting area and while the plants may need a tinkle of water, both police and volunteers will be on alert for anyone looking to self-irrigate. In all seriousness, relieving oneself outside a designated port-o-john will result in removing oneself from the race.

Pacers

Need a pacer? We’ve arranged for pacers to bring you to a finishing time from 1 hour and 30 minutes (1:30) to 2 hours and 45 minutes (2:45). Just look for the Official Pacers holding signs and wearing bright orange singlets with finish times on their backs.

When the Gun Goes Off

The starting gun will go off promptly at 6:45 am!  It will go off again at 45 second intervals for a total of 3 waves of runners. To better accommodate the crowd and to get you moving at your race pace from the get go, we use a wave start. Upon entering the starting coral look for the pace signs held by our pace leaders wearing orange singlets and seed yourself accordingly. Please be honest in self-seeding to minimize the possibility of crowding on the trail so that everyone can enjoy their race experience and the amazing park system you will be running through. Even though the race is “chip” timed, it’s critical that participants get to the starting line on time as the timing mats will be lifted at 7:00 am. 

The Course

It’s all right here, just a click away….

Race Time Limit

To comply with our permits, all participants must maintain a minimum pace of 12:36 per mile in order to finish within two hours and forty-five minutes. Anyone exceeding this pace will be requested drop from the race or to obey pedestrian traffic laws should they choose to continue running.  Please be aware that aid stations will close on a 12:36 min/ mile pace.

Needwood Road

The first 2 miles of the course will be on local neighborhood roads consisting of golf courses and churches. While safety is always our concern, it is imperative that participants clear the first two miles in a timely manner.. If you fall behind, you may be taken in the sweep vehicle to the entrance of Needwood Park where you may continue of your way.

Aid Stations & Medical

Aid stations will be located approximately every two miles on the course with water and lemon-lime Gatorade.  All aid stations (water stops) will be self-serve and, due to COVID-19, all runners are expected to pick up their own PRE-FILLED cup of water or Gatorade.    

If you have an allergy that requires you to use an Epipen, please carry your own on race day. We do not have a supply of Epipens. We do have ambulances and paramedics.  In the event of their use, you should speak to the closest medical volunteer on the course and they will call an ambulance to take you to the hospital. Anytime Epipens are used, it is important to seek medical attention. Allergic reactions don’t always respond and you may need further treatment. Epinephrine elevates you heart rate and you should stop running.

Runners with asthma should carry their own inhalers. If you use your inhaler and don’t feel like your breathing is improving, please go to nearest aid station or tell one of the bike spotters or Emergency Medical Bikers.

When running, please listen to your body and if you show signs of heat related illness or dehydration stop and get help. Live to run another day. Headache, extreme weakness, dizziness, heat cramps, chills/lack of sweating, nausea, vomiting, fainting, hyperventilation, impaired judgment, muscular incoordination, confusion are all signs that you may need medical attention.

There are multiple medical aid stations on the course. There will be bike spotters and emergency medical bike medics on the course. If you need help, any medical volunteer will have a phone and can assist you.  There is no shame in asking for help if you need it!

Medical Volunteers will be wearing bright orange or green vests that say “Medical”.

The No-No's of Running Parks

We kindly request that you leave your headphones at home.  If you musest participate with headphones, please consider lowering the volume and using only one ear bud. We’re not just looking out for your safety, but the safety of everyone around you. The course is narrow in parts.  Please run aware.

The following are prohibited during the race:

*Making or accepting phone calls on the course

* Texting

* Posting to your thousands of Facebook fans, Instagram followers, 'Tweeps, etc.  If you absolutely MUST tweet to the waiting masses, please stop and step off of the course to do so.  Otherwise, you will cause a backup and a safety issue.

* Pets and strollers

* Walking sticks, selfie sticks, scooters, skateboards or any other wheeled devices.  These items are a hazard to your fellow runners.

At the Finish

Once you cross the finish line and collect your finisher’s medal, you are invited to enjoy some great food from Mamma Lucia including grilled sausage, New Orleans Egg Soufflés, hot pizza, Italian subs, baked ziti, home fries, scrambled eggs, fruit, and drinks while you rest your weary legs and party with the friends you made over the last 13.1 miles at the post race celebration!

Awards

Age Group Awards will not be available for the 2021 event.  It has been a rough year for everyone, and with that, we would like to throw it back and award our local club members.

Awards will be processed as follows:

Overall Open MCRRC Male (1st place - $300; 2nd place - $200; 3rd place - $100)
Overall Open MCRRC Female (1st place - $300; 2nd place - $200; 3rd place - $100)
Overall Master MCRRC Male (1st place - $300)
Overall Master MCRRC Female (1st place - $300)

To be eligible, you must have a current MCRRC membership as of the day of the race. This will be verified in our database.  Additionally, you must have been a member as of Januray 1, 2021.  There is no duplication of awards.

Awards will be mailed in the weeks following the race.

Returning to the Start After the Race

You're best bet is to plan to take Metro. Grosvenor Metro station is located a few hundred yards north of the finish festival.  Please note that you must purchase a SmartTrip card as paper fare cards are no longer available.  All trains will end at Twinbrook Station this year due to track work. Metro is offering shuttle busses from Twinbrook back to Shady Grove

In addition, the Parks Half Marathon will position private busses at the Twinbrook station to supplement the busses supplied by Metro, which will take participants back to Shady Grove. Between Metro and the Parks Half Marathon, we will get you back safely and as quickly as possible. Our busses will have "Parks Half Marathon - Official Vehicle" signage in the front and side windows.

If you are a marathoner, simply turn around after finishing and re-trace your steps back to the start!

A Note on Weather

We don’t want them either, but ’tis the season for rain, flooding, flying cattle, and D.C. area humidity.  Be sure to check the race website and social media in the event that severe weather concerns are forecasted for race weekend. Impacts, if any, to race weekend will be posted on the race website starting Wednesday, September 21sth.

Thank You, Sponsors!

This event would not be, possible without the generous support of our sponsors which can all be viewed on our website. Please take a moment to view the page and give them your business when and where the opportunity arises.

We look forward to seeing you at the finish line hope you have a great race!

Please note that MCRRC donates a portion of the proceeds from this race to several local charities, as part of our contribution and mission to social values and responsibilities.

Have a great race!

Don Shulman, Race Director, Parks Half Marathon (parkshalfmarathon@mcrrc.org)

 

 

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