I was promised a fast and flat course at Fletcher’s Cove (by people who ran at Kensington last weekend), and was not disappointed. Other than the 180 degree turn around, there’s little to impede a quicker run here. That said, the towpath isn’t that wide, and training groups use it, as do cyclists, so it would certainly be possible to get momentarily stuck. It worked for me.
I ran to the start from Falls Church, a straightforward 5 miles with some hills to keep me working. The end of that run took me over a bridge, with a great view of the Potomac, and then along the path, dovetailing with the ‘back’ section of the out and back parkrun course.
As you can see from the picture, it’s not a tarmacced course, but it’s pretty hard-packed.
The meeting point is near Fletcher’s Cove boathouse, with runners mostly congregating near the car park and on the bridge. For the briefing, they move you off the path, down some steps, nearer the canoes above, which is smart – it keeps us all out of the way of other path users till we actually need it. Event director Andreas was chatty and friendly, happily talking about how he found parkrun, and was intrigued because it fit with the social network growth in which he had a professional interest.
There are buses to near the start, Google told me, not that I took them; if you want to use the metro, then Rosslyn is a nice 5km jog away. I ran back that way, post-social at the ‘Black Coffee’ shop a short walk away from the start/finish area. It’s a great spot, and the (gluten-free) brownie I had was a cut above.
As for the run, it was organised like clockwork, fast at the very front, and people seemed to happily find a place to spread out along what otherwise would be a congested footpath. I had a decent run, and it was a coolish day, though the DC mugginess was still in full effect to make it a sweaty experience, even in mid September. At the finish, those runners who wanted to stand around and chat did so on the bridge and around the finish area, which is nicely organised so that everyone else can still use the trail.
I had the bonus of meeting Mark Broomfield, a US-based ambassador for the Comrades ultra-marathon, who entertained us all over coffee: “Ok, ok, last story” was his catchphrase, and we kept persuading him (or he persuaded us, I forget) to let him make it the penultimate, every time.
As the sun appeared, it was a still more sweaty run into Rosslyn, though I had the benefit of bumping into Nick Young, event director at Roosevelt Island parkrun, just as I got near the metro station, so ended my morning as I had begun it – talking about runners and running. It’s a great parkrun community in DC, spread across the city thanks to their having several runs for you to try. Highly recommended, but do try and stay for at least a couple of Saturdays so as to experience different runs and groups.