Parks Half Marathon

Sun September 10, 2023 Rockville, MD 20850 US Directions
The Course
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The race is run through an area of exceptional natural beauty. The USATF-Certified Parks Half Marathon has been created to showcase that beauty, so please make use of the many trash bins along the course to deposit your used gel packs and water cups. Even tossing your cup to within a few feet of the trash bins will greatly assist the post-race cleanup effort.

  • Point-to-Point Race. This is a point-to-point race, and the start and finish are close to Shady Grove and Grosvenor metros, respectively.
  • Course Time Limit. The Course Time Limit/cutoff time to finish the race is 2 hours and 50 minutes. Thus, all participants must maintain a minimum pace of 12 minutes and 36 seconds-per-mile in order to finish within the cutoff time. 
  • Elevation Gain. The elevation gain is 380 feet, and elevation decline is 480 feet. While the course offers a net downhill finish, it also offers a mix of flat, fast and rolling hills.
  • Water Stops. Water will be at the start and finish. Fully staffed, and entertaining, water stops are also positioned every two miles on the course, within a few yards of each mile marker (… just so you can hit your split before grabbing a cup of Gatorade or DrinkMore Water). We have six water stops in total on the course. Gatorade is offered at the first area of each water stop and then water is offered second. Water stops will close based on the 12 minute and 36 seconds-per-mile pace required to finish within the cutoff time. 
  • Medical Aid Stations. Four medical aid stations will be located at miles 4, 8, 10 and 12, in conjunction with the water stops are these points in the race. HAM Radio operators are all along the course and can summon medical help if needed via the use of a Gator from the local Rescue Squad.  
  • Port-a-Johns. Port-a-johns will be provided at the start and finish. They will also be available on the course at each water stop – roughly every 2 miles.
  • Use of Headphones and Cell Phones. Use of headphones and cell phones during the race are strongly discouraged as the trail is narrow in parts and you will want to be aware of who is around you for safety reasons. Secondly, you will be running in the most scenic areas in this part of the country…Enjoy it!

And now for the course information….

  • The race starts at the Metro overpass on Redland Road just north of Somerville Road.
  • Participants will turn onto Needwood Road and enter Needwood Park (mile 2) and proceed on the paved surface of the park until reaching the hiker/biker trail.
  • Participants will proceed all the way down the trail for approximately 12 miles before turning onto Beach Drive for the finish.
  • The surface of the Rock Creek hiker/biker trail is asphalt. From the point when the course turns onto the hiker/biker trail, please maintain no more than two abreast in order to allow others to pass.
  • In the case of heavy rains in the 2-3 day period prior to the Parks Half Marathon, participants can expect some water on the course…. and we’re not talking about the kind served in cups. While the Maryland-National Capital Park & Planning Commission does a wonderful job in maintaining the trail and preparing it for our race, there are several low-lying areas on the trail that present challenges in drainage following heavy rains. So, if presented, take the opportunity to do what every five year old would do and splash through the puddles! Some of the wooden bridge surfaces can be slick with rain of if there is an early morning dew. Take those turns with caution.
  • Enjoy your race and we look forward to seeing you at the finish!

Finish Festival

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, scrambled eggs, hot pizza, penne marinara, Italian subs, 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. You deserve this!

You Finished and Celebrated: How to Return to the Start 

Since this is a point-to-point race, your best bet to return to the start to get your car at Shady Grove Metro is to take Metro. Grosvenor Metro Station is located a few hundred yards north of the finish festival. Please note that you must have a plastic SmarTrip card, as paper fare cards are no longer available. You can also purchase SmarTrip from your mobile phone using Apple Wallet and Google Pay, and this allows you a contactless way to purchase a transit card to pay for Metro. Please see www.wmata.com for more information.

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