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Runner’s Race Guide to Arlington

As soon as you set foot in Arlington, you will see people running on our scenic trails or participating in races. Runners love Arlington so much that we were named the Best City for Runners in the USA by CNN! You can join in on the running fun when you’re in town – at any given time you can find a professional race or fun run here.

“There are a huge number of trails here that are well lit and always plowed in the winter. The infrastructure is fabulous, we are so lucky! Arlington is ready made for running, whether it’s one mile or 25,” says Heather Jeff, event manager for Pacers Running, a local fitness store and events company. “Plus, there are tons of running groups and free fitness here!”

Arlington has roughly 100 miles of paved trails, which also connect to the trails and monuments of Washington, D.C., Alexandria and beyond. We also have dozens of races – from major professional events to intimate charity runs – so if you’re looking to join a local run, you’ll find one here. We’ve gathered many of the racing events in the area, but you can also chart your own course along our many trails.

FALL

Clarendon Day Run

Pacers Running Stores is hosting the Clarendon Day Run (two races and a kids dash) on Saturday, Sept. 21, along with the Clarendon Day neighborhood street festival. Run around Clarendon and alongside Arlington National Cemetery during this popular local race. The Clarendon 5K at 8 a.m. and 10K at 9 a.m. will benefit the Wendy Martinez Legacy Project and No Kid Hungry Virginia.

Home Run for the Homeless

The second annual Home Run for the Homeless 5K is set for Saturday, Oct. 5, at 9 a.m. It starts at Bluemont Park Shelter, a few minutes from Arlington’s Ballston neighborhood, and will follow a trail to Falls Church, Virginia. Organized by Potomac River Running, the race benefits three local organizations that provide housing, employment and child-care services to homeless parents and their children in Northern Virginia.

Global Strides 5K

Join the Arlington Academy of Hope (AAH) for its Global Strides 5K in the scenic Bluemont Park in Arlington. Enjoy the 5K Race and Children's Fun Run on Sunday, Oct.6, at 8 a.m. Dogs are welcome, too! All race proceeds benefit communities in rural eastern Uganda through AAH education and healthcare programs.

Book It For Books 5K

Sweat for education at the Book It For Books 5K and Family Fun Run on Saturday, Oct. 12, at 9 a.m. at Bluemont Park in Arlington. Put on by Reading is Fundamental of Northern Virginia (RIF of NOVA), the race aims to raise $25,000 to provide over 12,000 books for deserving children in the local area.

Army Ten-Miler

Celebrating its 35-year anniversary, the Army Ten-Miler takes place on Oct. 13 at the Pentagon in Arlington. The 10-mile race winds its way through Arlington to Washington, D.C., and the National Mall, and then back to Arlington. Attracting 35,000 runners from all over the world, the Army Ten-Miler has a variety of participants including military, civilians, wheelchair athletes and wounded-warrior athletes. The race weekend starts Oct. 11-12 with an expo at the D.C. Armory featuring more than 100 exhibitors. Runners fuel up for the race at the all-you-can-eat Pasta Dinner on Oct. 12 at the Crystal Gateway Marriott, with attendance from the Army’s top brass and live entertainment from The U.S. Army Band Downrange. Sunday, Oct. 13, is race day with awards and live music after the run. The proceeds from the race support Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation programs, which support readiness and resilience for soldiers and families.

Army 10 Miler race
Army Ten-Miler @kenalegre/Instagram

Marine Corps Marathon

Home of the Marine Corps Marathon, Arlington welcomes its premier racing event of the year, the 44th Marine Corps Marathon and its related events, Oct. 25-27. Named the “Best Marathon in the Mid-Atlantic,” the Marine Corps Marathon welcomes up to 30,000 runners from 50 states and more than 60 countries. Arlington-based professional runner and ultramarathoner Mike Wardian says, “They do a really good job with it and it is all staffed by Marines so it is all dialed in.” Wardian has run races all over the world and says, “The Marine Corps Marathon is one of the coolest events that I have been to. I think have done it 17 or 18 times.” The race course is a beautiful one traversing the Potomac River, Arlington National Cemetery, the National Mall, Rock Creek Park and other stunning landmarks in our region. So if you’re running, make sure to look up and take in the sights.

The marathon is a whole weekend of events starting with the Health & Fitness Expo, which will be held at Gaylord National Harbor and Convention Center on Oct. 25-26. The Expo features hundreds of vendor booths, packet pick-up, interactive displays, giveaways and more. There will also be a speaker series. Fuel up for race day with the Carbo Dining In, a nod to the military tradition of “dining in,” on Oct. 26 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Gaylord National Resort. The weekend also includes more than one race: participants can join the 10K, full marathon or the new 50K, and kids can join in on the fun for the Kids Run. The day of high-adrenaline races will end with the Finish Festival in Arlington’s Rosslyn neighborhood, with food, music, giveaways and more just a short walk from the Marine Corps War Memorial, the MCM finish line.

Marine Corps Marathon
Marine Corps Marathon @jnsparg/Instagram

2019 Ben's Chili Bowl Half and Half

Combine your love for running with your love for chili with the Ben’s Chili Bowl Half and Half on Saturday, Nov. 9, at 8 a.m. The half marathon kicks off at Ben's Chili Bowl Arlington in Rosslyn and takes you on the Custis Trail. At the halfway point, you will eat a famous Ben’s Chili Bowl Half Smoke. Then you will run south along the Potomac River to the Columbia Island Marina and back to Ben’s Chili Bowl. Race proceeds are donated to ScholarCHIPS, which supports and provides mentorship to college-bound students with incarcerated parents.

Arlington Turkey Trot Fun Run

The fall running season winds down with the annual Thanksgiving Day Arlington Turkey Trot Fun Run, which supports six local charities. This neighborhood 5K usually has about 4,000 registered participants and winds around an array of charming Arlington

WINTER

Four Courts Four Miler

Taking place in Arlington’s Courthouse neighborhood, the Four Courts Four Miler combines St. Patrick’s Day merriment with a challenging four-mile race. Don your favorite green and Irish-inspired gear and set out for the race, which runs through Rosslyn and past Arlington National Cemetery, before you turn around to celebrate your accomplishment. Finish the race with a pint, live music and dancing at one of Arlington’s favorite Irish pubs, Ireland’s Four Courts. This race benefits the Arlington County Police Friends and Family Fund.

SPRING

Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon

Rock and run during the lively Washington, D.C. Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon, taking place on March 28, 2020. This series of races offers a marathon, half marathon and 5K through Washington, D.C.

Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run

Taking place across the river from Arlington, the popular Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run happens every year during the National Cherry Blossom Festival. Coming up on April 5, 2020, at the Washington Monument, the event features a 10-mile run and 5K walk-run with great views of Arlington and the Tidal Basin and more.

Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run
Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run @Rugbfairy1/Instagram

Crystal City 5K Fridays

Every Friday night in April, there is a 5K followed by Happy Hour in Crystal City. Crystal City 5K Fridays kick off on April 3, 2020, at 6:30 p.m. and typically welcoming more than 3,000 runners during the month. Run past vibrant murals and Long Bridge Park during this evening 5K. After the race, runners get post-race drink tickets that can be used at popular bars in Arlington.

George Washington Parkway Classic 10 Mile

Run alongside the Potomac River on the scenic George Washington Memorial Parkway from George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate to Old Town Alexandria on April 26, 2020. The 36th annual Parkway Classic offers a 10-mile race, 5K and kids dash, celebrating the simple joys of road racing.

SUMMER

Crystal City Twilighter

Run after dark at the Crystal City Twilighter held on July 18, 2020, at 8:30 p.m. The 5K heads along Crystal Drive and past Long Bridge Park before ending at the Crystal City Courtyard Green. After the race, enjoy local beer, pizza and entertainment in the post-race beer garden.

Crystal City Twilighter race
Crystal City Twilighter | Credit: Crystal City BID

Other Races

Competitive races mostly hibernate during the summer and winter months in Arlington, but our trails remain open and so do a handful of fun runs. Every weekend you can join the Roosevelt Island Park Run for free in Rosslyn and grab a coffee afterwards with your running mates. See our events page for more details.

Author: Talia Salem