Best Running Events and Marathons in the Washington DC Area

Annual Races in DC, Maryland and Northern Virginia


Rachel Cooper

Washington DC is a popular destination for a variety of running events and marathons. With its iconic architecture and beautiful scenery, the nation’s capital provides a great location for outdoor athletic competitions. Following is a guide to the most popular annual events. (in order by date)

Cupid's Undie Run
February. Participants run a 1.75 mile lap around the U.S. Capitol Building in their Valentine's themed undies to raise money for the Children's Tumor Foundation.

St. Patrick's Day 8K
March. Washington, DC kicks off the spring season with a day of family fun including the 8K, a 1K kids fun run, Irish dancing and entertainment.

Rock n Roll Series - National Marathon
March.  The 26.2 mile race begins at RFK Stadium and provides runners and spectators with views of the national memorials and monuments, the National Mall and the best of Washington, DC’s neighborhoods, including portions run through Adams Morgan, Kalorama, Poplar Point and more. The annual race in Washington, DC race raises funds for local youth organizations that use sports to build character, encourage physical fitness and enhance education.

MCM Event Series
March – November. The Marine Corps Marathon hosts a variety of running events during the warmest months of the year. Events include the Marine Corps 17.75K; the muddy fun of Run Amuck and Mini Run Amuck; the Crossroads 4-Miler and the Turkey Trot 10K and Kids Mile. Marine Corps Historic Half events include the 13.1 mile Historic Half, the new Marine Corps Historic 10K (6.2 miles) and Semper Fred 5K (3.1 miles).

Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run
April. As part of the National Cherry Blossom Festival, the event includes a 10 Mile Run, 5k Run Walk, and 1k Kids Run. The course crosses Memorial Bridge, continues on Rock Creek Parkway to just past the Kennedy Center, loops the Tidal Basin and circles Hains Point.

National Police Week 5K
May. The 5K honors fallen law enforcement officers by raising awareness to the sacrifices officers make every day. The event raises money to support ODMP programs like No Parole for Cop Killers, Line of Duty Death Notifications, ODMP K9, Survivor Benefits Database, and research to uncover the stories of forgotten heroes.

Semper Fi 5K
May. The annual event is held in Anacostia Park in Washington DC to raise money to provide financial assistance and quality of life solutions to Marines and Sailors, as well as members of the Army, Air Force and Coast Guard who serve in support of Marine forces.

Nations Triathlon
September. The multi-sport event in Washington DC includes a scenic course that winds through the National Mall, a 1.5k swim in the Potomac River, a 40k bike course through the streets of DC and Maryland, and a 10k run past the city’s historical landmarks. The weekend-long festivities include a free two-day Health & Fitness Expo and a finish line festival featuring a live band.

Woodrow Wilson Bridge Half Marathon
October. The 13.1-mile foot race treats runners to eight-plus miles of the beautifully scenic George Washington Memorial Parkway to the Woodrow Wilson Bridge, which arches over the Potomac River. This race benefits several non-profit organizations and is supported by various local and national running, civic and business organizations.

Army Ten-Miler
October. The 10 mile race course begins and ends at the Pentagon in Arlington, VA and runs through the National Mall in Washington DC. Military and civilian runners come from all over the world to take part in this annual tradition. Race weekend activities include a two-day race expo, fitness clinics, youth runs, post race party and HOOAH tents from Army installations around the world.

Marine Corps Marathon
October.  The race known as the “The People’s Marathon” brings together runners from all walks of life to participate in a patriotic race and a day of family-friendly activities. The traditional Marine Corps Marathon course is 26.2 miles and a 10K race also allows runners of all ages to join in a shorter 6.2 mile event. The weekend includes additional events including a Health and Fitness Expo, the Healthy Kids Fun Run, Crystal Run (a festival in Crystal City), and the Marine Corps Marathon Finish Festival.

Turkey Trots
November. These running events are designed to get you moving during the holiday season and raise money for the needy. Turkey Trots are held in Washington, DC, Maryland or Northern Virginia.

Jingle All the Way 5K
December. The holiday inspired 5K takes runners through the streets of downtown Washington, DC, to the U.S. Capitol, past museums, and across the National Mall. The start and finish lines are located on Pennsylvania Avenue NW, between 12th and 13th Streets, near Freedom Plaza.

Fairfax Four Miler
December. The  New Year's Eve family friendly event brings the community together for an evening of healthy fun in Old Town Fairfax. This event supports the Fairfax Police Youth Club. A post race party includes food and entertainment.

See also a guide to Charity Walks in Washington DC, Maryland and Northern Virginia

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