Sunday, November 18, 2001

Montgomery County Marathon in the Park (Maryland)

November 18, 2001
Marathon 17, State #11 (Age 33)
Bethesda, Maryland

For a race with a limit of 2,000 the organization and every detail of the race gives the race the personality of a much larger race.  The website is very professional and informative.  The expo included one vendor with a wide variety of clothing and shoes.  Also at the expo the official clothing was all top notch.  I even got a free pre-race massage for about ten minutes while at the expo.

The inaugural Montgomery County Marathon in the Parks on November 5, 2000 was a smashing success! Created by the Montgomery Parks Foundation and the Montgomery County Road Runners Club (MCRRC), the event showcased one of the most extensive metropolitan parks systems in the country while providing runners with a competitive, top-notch race. For 2001, the Marathon in the Parks has some exciting enhancements in store for runners, volunteers, spectators, and every citizen of Montgomery County.

    A modified course will make spectating easier and finish times faster.
    A new award structure featuring $9,000 in cash prize money will ensure top-notch competition.
    The new 2,000 runner limit will allow more runners than ever before to complete the scenic 26.2-mile journey.
    The ChampionChip timing system will provide immediate, precise times for every runner to ensure as great a chance as possible to qualify for the Boston Marathon or set a new PR!
    Our expanded Expo and pre-race Pasta Dinner will provide runners with great shopping, great food, and complimentary massages before the race.
    New race merchandise including long-sleeve T-shirts, our famous Coolmax windshirts, hats, gloves, and more are available.
    ...and much more!

2001 was the 2nd year for this event.

The Marathon in the Parks starts on Redland Road in Derwood, Maryland. The starting line is located about 50 meters East of Route 355 near the Shady Grove Metro Station. Runners head East on Redland Road (away from Route 355) to start.

At the start, the entire road is available to the runners. The first turn is left onto Crabbs Branch Way. At this point, runners will be funnelled to the North-bound lanes of Crabbs Branch Way and will only utilize those lane beginning at the overpass of I-370.

MILE 1 is located on Crabbs Branch Way, 20feet South of a green Cable TV box across from the driveway of 16640, the DOT Highway Maintenance Yard. Continue North on Crabbs Branch Way. Turn right onto Shady Grove Road. Runners will utilize the right lane only on the East-bound side of Shady Grove Road.

MILE 2 is located on Shady Grove Rd, North of Briardale between the eleventh and twelfth posts on the guardrail (South end).

MILE 3 is located on Shady Grove Rd., 20 feet East of the sewer drain and 100 feet West of Muncaster Mill Road. Runners will then turn right onto Muncaster Mill Road, staying in the right lane of South-bound traffic.

The next turn is right on Redland Road, utilizing only the West-bound lane of Redland Road. MILE 4 is located 50 feet Northeast of Pepco pole #758974-5141, across from the driveway for 17021 Redland Road.

MILE 5 is 25 feet South of the crosswalk at Needwood Rd and Redland Road intersection, 54 feet North of the 1st C&P pole.

Runners turn South onto Needwood Road, utilizing only the right lane of the road at all times on Needwood Road. They will then turn right at the first intersection with Deer Lake Road. Follow Deer Lake Road until it intersects with Needwood Road again. Turn right.

MILE 6 is on Needwood Rd, 36 feet West of Pepco pole #760469-26 and 93ft East of the fire hydrant at the top of the hill, 1/8 mile before Needwood Golf Course entrance.

Continue on Needwood Road to the entrance of Lake Needwood Park, just past the lake. Runners now turn right onto Beach Drive into Lake Needwood Park. All of Beach Drive will be available for the runners.

MILE 7 is located in the park on Beach Drive, 15 feet South of the first wooden guardrail on the left side of the road - 172 feet North of the "No Parking" sign on the right.

Turn right at the first intersection you come to. This is a small road off of Beach Drive that will loop around and re-intersect Beach Drive about 1/4 mile down. Once the runners reach Beach Drive again, turn right.

Pass Lake Needwood Drive and continue to the fork in the road. Stay right at the fork to enter Needwood Circle. MILE 8 is located on Needwood Circle, 36 feet West of the wooden stairs on the left and 72 feet West of the 2nd "No Parking" sign.

Continue around Needwood Circle, rejoin Beach Drive, then turn right onto Lake Needwood Drive to exit the park. Runners will use the right side of Lake Needwood Drive.

Runners will turn right onto Avery Road off Lake Needwood Drive. On Avery Road, the runners will use only the right lane. MILE 9 is on Avery Road, 33 feet North of 5925 Avery and 81 ft South of Pepco Pole #765467-9187.

Follow Avery Road to Southlawn Lane. Turn right on Southlawn Lane. All of Southlawn Lane will be available to the runners. MILE 10 is 16 feet East of the first "No Parking" sign on Southlawn Lane, 36 feet East of Rock Creek Trail.

Turn left onto Rock Creek Trail from Southlawn Lane. The runners will be on Rock Creek Trail for the next several miles. MILE 11 is located 1/8 mile North of (before) the Norbeck Road (Rt.28) overpass.

MILE 12 is located 70 feet South of the Rock Creek Trail side trail (on right side) to the Broom School. The runners will come to a parking area at Aspen Hill Park. Run directly across the parking area, vearing right toward the exit onto Baltic Road.

MILE 13 is in the entrance lane of Aspen Hill Park, 171 feet North of Baltic Avenue - next to the upper side parking lot. Turn right onto Baltic Avenue. The HALF MARATHON is at the driveway on Baltic Avenue for 5029 Aspen Hill Rd, 55 feet West of Aspen Hill Road/Baltic Avenue intersection stop sign.

Turn right on Aspen Hill Road. There will be no lane restrictions, as the entire road is closed to any traffic other than runners. Continue across Veirs Mill Road and directly back onto Rock Creek Trail.

MILE 14 is on Rock Creek Trail, under overhead wires past the yellow poles on the small bridge. (Some of these mile marker descriptions seem vague, but the areas that are being run through are fairly heavily wooded, so we can't be too much more descriptive. The certified miles are all marked - in black - on the pavement, too, though.)

Cross Randolph Road. To do this, the runners will follow the trail to the intersection of Randolph Road with Dewey Road, continue straight across Randolph Road to the median, then cut immediately to the right to the main portion of Rock Creek Trail. Ramps will be installed at teh curbs to ensure a smooth transition.

MILE 15 is 100 meters South of Randolph Road on Rock Creek Trail.

Runners will cross Garrett Park Road. MILE 16 is on the trail, 109 feet before (North of) the first footbridge South of Garrett Park Road.

Continue on the trail across Wexford Drive, past KenGar Recreation Area, through the railroad underpass, and across Strathmore Avenue/Knowles Avenue. MILE 17 is 1/8 mile South of Strathmore/Knowles crossing.

Runners stay on Rock Creek Trail as it continues through Kensington, crossing Beach Drive near Franklin Street. MILE 18 is 343 feet before (North of) that crossing.

The next road crossing is Cedar Lane. MILE 19 is 200 meters South of Cedar Lane on the trail.

Follow Rock Creek Trail as it passes under Connecticut Avenue. Continue on the trail across Beach Drive, then immediately across Stanhope Road. MILE 20 is located 100 meters Northwest of the next intersection: Kensington Parkway.

At the intersection of Rock Creek Trail and Kensington Parkway, runners will turn right on Kensington Parkway, crossing Beach Drive. Stay in the right lane of Kensington Parkway for 1/6 mile to turnaround. The turnaround point is 18 meters South of Pepco pole #778427-9952. Return on Kensington Parkway in the right lane again (opposite the lane that was used on the trip out). Cross Beach Drive and continue North on Kensington Parkway. All lanes will be deliniated by cones and will be marshalled.

Follow Kensington Parkway north, crossing Bexhill Drive. Runners will utilize the right lane only on Kensington Parkway to Saul Road. Turn right onto Saul, then immediately right onto Kingston. MILE 21 is located on Kingston, just South of Saul Road. Turn left onto Bexhill Drive, then left onto Kensington Parkway.

When the runners return to the Kensington Parkway/Beach Drive intersection, runners will turn left onto Rock Creek Trail.

Cross Beach Drive at the intersection with Old Spring Road. MILE 22 is 78 feet North of the Stop sign at the intersection of Jones Mill Road/Stoneybrook. Stay on Rock Creek Trail as it crosses under Interstate 495. Cross Beach Drive immediately after the intersection with Forsythe Avenue. The route now takes the trail to the left, NOT over the bridge.

Turn right at the trail intersection, crossing over the footbridge. Rejoining the main trail near Beach Drive, turn left to continue South.

MILE 23 is located 100 meters South of the next footbridge, 150 meters North of Railroad Trestle.

Turn right onto East-West Highway, running in the right lane only. Turn right onto Jones Mill Road, staying in the right lane only. Turn right onto Coquelin Terrace at the first intersection with that road. MILE 24 is located 3208 Coquelin Terrace, 12 feet North or past sidewalk of 3208.

Follow Coquelin Terrace back to Jones Mill Road. Turn right on Jones Mill Road and immediately head across the road to the trail entrance for the Georgetown Branch Trail. The entrance is on the West side of Jones Mill Road, just before the intersection with Jones Bridge Road.

Stay on the Georgetown Branch Trail across Connecticut Avenue. MILE 25 is located 40 meters West of the 15th Tee sign on Columbia Country Club Golf Course, 240 feet West of the 2nd fence gate on the trail.

Continue under East-West Highway, then into the tunnel under the Air Rights Building. MILE 26 is 6ft before the 7th light pole from East to West inside the tunnel - 21meters before decorated fencing.

Once the runners emerge from the tunnel, continue on the trail to Woodmont Avenue/Bethesda Avenue intersection. Turn right on Woodmont Avenue. FINISH is 5 feet before the fire hydrant on the right side of Woodmont Avenue in front of 7251 Woodmont - 10 ft North of parking meter #219.

I would like to again compliment the organizers of this race.  For a field limit of 2,000 runners the support from start to finish was equal or better than many much larger marathons.  In the morning there were Port-O-John's next to the start line and if you didn't feel like waiting in line woods right behind them!  I preferred not to wait in line!  There were water stops nearly every two miles.  At every aid station there was first Ultima and then water.  Gel was handed out two different areas of the course.  The race started out along local roads which drew a fair crowd.  Eventually when the race moved onto the park path there were mostly crowds at the many intersections with the main roads.

After the race there was much food and drink.  They provided bottled water, soda, cookies, a bag of goodies, apples, and bananas.  Next to the finish line was also massage free for all participants.  The weather was warmer than norm for November, but the silver blankets were much appreciated.  They also provided a shuttle of clothing from the start to the finish line which were organized by race number and easy to find after the race.  The course was point to point so during registration you had an opportunity to purchase a metro pass.  The pass gave you fare back to the start line.  The start and finish were both within two blocks of a metro train station.

The official race hotel was Comfort Inn conveniently located less than a mile from the start line.  There was plenty of parking at the start line at the metro train parking area.  The hotel filled up before the race did, so one month prior to the event I ended up getting stuck with a smoking room.  Yuck.  The people working the front desk were very friendly, but management was not very accommodating for the large number of people that wanted late check outs.  They insisted that we had to check out no later than 11:00 a.m.  We removed all of our stuff from the room in the morning and were fortunate when we came back after the race they hadn't cleaned our room yet.  They reactivated our key and we were able to shower.

Packet pick up is Saturday between opening at 10 a.m. at the community rec center near the finish area in Bethesda.  We were not able to find the center very easily because it's tucked in a residential area.  We stopped at a gas station and looked at a road guide of the area to find the expo and packet pickup.  There was a carbo loading dinner Saturday night, but I didn't participate.

I did no sight seeing around Bethesda, but found it was very easy and inexpensive to fly in to Baltimore.  The drive was less than 45 minutes from the airport to the hotel.  After the race we drove back to Baltimore and checked out the Harbor Area.  We found a sports bar ESPN Zone for our after the race dinning experience.  We walked around the harbor and stopped by a few other taverns.  There is a big Aquarium in the harbor that we didn't visit.  Also Bethesda is less than five miles from Washington DC, so there is plenty to see.

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