[This post has been updated.]
About 30,000 people will run a 26.2-mile route through Arlington County and the District on Sunday, as thousands of supporters scurry from Metro station to station cheering them along. Meanwhile, thousands of travelers will simply be trying to avoid crossing paths with what for them is an annual obstacle course.
Here are some tips for achieving those goals.
Weather: The Capital Weather Gang’s outlook is for a crisp, clear Sunday.
Course overview: The marathon begins and ends by Arlington National Cemetery. Runners enter the District via the Key Bridge, go up and down Rock Creek Parkway, visit Hains Point and tour the National Mall to the U.S. Capitol before returning to Arlington County via the HOV lanes of the 14th Street Bridge, finishing near the Marine Corps Memorial. The race is set to begin with the firing of a howitzer at 7:55 a.m. Sunday. Police in the District and Arlington County will close many streets on and near the course for varying lengths of time. Most roadways will be reopened by 3 p.m., some closings will begin earlier than the marathon start and continue after its end. Police will use their discretion about times and locations based on prevailing conditions.
Metrorail: Driving and parking for the marathon will be challenging. Metrorail remains a best bet for participants and spectators. The rail system will open at 5 a.m. Sunday, two hours earlier than normal. To reach the start line, use Pentagon station on the Blue and Yellow lines. Arlington Cemetery station won’t open till 8:30 a.m.
The Arlington Cemetery station is an easy walk to and from the finish area, but it’s served by the Blue Line only. Rosslyn station, on the Blue and Orange lines, also is within walking distance and is popular on marathon day because it has the extra service provided by two lines. (Metro will operate extra Blue Line trains between Franconia-Springfield and Stadium-Armory from 5 a.m. to 8:15 a.m. and from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.)
To slow the flow of people into stations and avoid dangerous crowding, Metro staffers sometimes will turn off the down escalators, turning them into walkers. Still, the lines at the fare vending machines and the fare gates can be extraordinarily long, and many of the people ahead of you may be using the system for the first time. Some may try to fit crumpled up paper fare cards into the gate, or may not realize they need to extract the card from the gate once it has been read electronically. Metro staffers do a good job helping people, but it’s still slow going.
The price of the plastic SmarTrip card, which can store fare value, has dropped to $2 and is available for sale at vending machines in stations. Buying one for marathon day is a good bet, partly because it saves paying the $1 per trip surcharge on paper fare cards and partly because the plastic cards don’t get soggy during a 26-mile run.
The Metro rebuilding program that normally disrupts weekend service will have a minimal impact on Sunday. Orange Line trains are scheduled to operate every 16 minutes, rather than every 15. Still, people who plan on using Metrorail to reach several spots where they can cheer on their runners should keep in mind that no line is scheduled to provide weekday-level service. Allow enough time to reach a station near the course before your runner passes by. (Runners are required to maintain a minimum pace of 14 minutes per mile. Sometimes, it may be quicker for spectators to walk between viewpoints than to take Metrorail.
Metrobus: The Pentagon bus terminal will be closed from 4 a.m. to about 4 p.m. During those hours, the buses will use the Pentagon City station. The Rosslyn bus terminal will be closed from 4 a.m. to about 6 p.m., and the buses will be relocated to Oak Street.
Shuttle: A shuttle service will begin operating at 5:30 a.m. Sunday between 23rd Street and Crystal Drive in Crystal City (near a Metrorail stop on the Blue and Yellow lines) and the Pentagon North Parking Lot. After the marathon, find the return shuttles at the base of the Finish Festival on Oak Street and Wilson Boulevard in Rosslyn.
Parking: Free parking will be available at the corner of 23rd Street and Crystal Drive, near the Metro station and the shuttle. But note that parking on Sunday is free at all Metro lots and garages.
Driving: It’s not only the closed streets that will create difficulty for drivers in D.C. and Arlington County. It’s also the ripple effect of congestion as drivers pursue unfamiliar detours around the closings. A full list of closings, provided by D.C. and Arlington police, appears below, but among the important routes that will be affected are the Route 110, Washington Boulevard, Key Bridge, Memorial Bridge, the 14th Street Bridge, Canal Road, Wisconsin Avenue, M Street NW, and Constitution and Independence avenues.
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Street closings: Law enforcement agencies in Arlington County and the District compiled this updated list of closing locations and approximate times.
- 4 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Marshall Drive from North Meade Street to Route 110
- 4 a.m.–5:30 p.m., North Meade Street from Marshall Drive to Lynn Street
- 4 a.m.–4:30 p.m., Route 110 from I-66 to Route 1/Jefferson Davis Highway
- 4 a.m.–5:30 p.m., Wilson Boulevard from North Nash Street to Route 110
- 4 a.m.–5:30 p.m., Lynn Street from North Meade Street to Lee Highway
- 4 a.m.–5:30 p.m., Fort Myer Drive from North Meade Street to Lee Highway
- 4 a.m.–5:30 p.m., North Moore Street from Wilson Boulevard to Lee Highway
- 4 a.m.–5:30 p.m., 19th Street North from Lynn Street to North Nash Street
- 4:30 a.m.–3:30 p.m., Route 110 ramp from Washington Boulevard to Pentagon North parking
- 5 a.m.–1:07 p.m., Jefferson Drive SW from 3rd Street SW to 14th Street SW
- 5 a.m.–12:45 p.m. Madison Drive NW from 15th Street NW to 3rd Street NW
- 6:30–11:30 a.m., Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway NW (northbound) to Beach Drive
- 6:30–11:30 a.m., Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway NW (southbound) from Shoreham Drive NW
- 6:30–11:30 a.m., Shoreham Drive NW (southbound) From Calvert Street to Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway NW
- 6:30–11:30 a.m., Beach Drive NW from Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway NW to Calvert Street
- 7–10 a.m., Lee Highway (eastbound) from Lynn Street to North Kirkwood Street
- 7–10 a.m., Spout Run Parkway from Lee Highway to George Washington Parkway
- 7–10 a.m., George Washington Parkway from Spout Run to Arlington Memorial Circle Drive
- 7 a.m.–12 p.m., Key Bridge (all lanes)
- 7:35 a.m.–1:17 p.m., 14th Street SW from Jefferson Drive to northbound HOV lanes
- 7:35–8:20 a.m., Seventh Street from Madison to Jefferson Drive
- 7:35 a.m.–2 p.m., HOV lanes from 14th Street SW to HOV ramp at South Eads Street
- 7:30 a.m.–2 p.m., South Eads Street from South Rotary Road to Army Navy Drive
- 7:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m., Army Navy Drive from South Fern to 12th Street South
- 7:47–10:36 a.m., M Street NW from Canal Road NW to Wisconsin Avenue NW
- 7:48–10:40 a.m., Wisconsin Avenue from M Street NW to K Street NW
- 7:49–10:45 a.m., K Street NW from Wisconsin Avenue NW to Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway NW
- 7:49–10:45 a.m., 27th Street NW from K Street NW to I (Eye) Street NW
- 7:49–10:45 a.m., I (Eye) Street NW from 27th Street NW to Virginia Ave NW
- 7:50–11:04 a.m., Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway NW from K Street NW to Independence Avenue
- 7:52–11:05 a.m. Lincoln Circle from 23rd Street NW to 23rd Street SW
- 7:53 a.m.–12 p.m. Ohio Drive SW at West Potomac Park from Independence Avenue SW around East Potomac Park to Maine Avenue SW
- 7:30–10 a.m., 15th Street South from Crystal Drive to Eads Street
- 7:30 a.m.–3 p.m., 12th Street from Army Navy Drive to Crystal Drive
- 7:30 a.m.-3 p.m., Crystal Drive from 12th Street to 23rd Street
- 7:30 a.m.–3 p.m., 23rd Street from Crystal Drive to North Clark Street
- 7:30 a.m.–3 p.m., South Clark Street from 23rd Street to 12th Street
- 7:30 a.m.–3 p.m., South Fern Street from Army Navy Drive to South Rotary Road
- 8 a.m.–3 p.m., South Rotary Road from South Fern Street to Columbia Pike
- 8 a.m.–3 p.m., Columbia Pike from South Rotary Road to Washington Boulevard on-ramp
- 8 a.m.–3 p.m., Washington Boulevard from Columbia Pike to Route 110 off-ramp
- 8:02 a.m.–12 p.m., Maine Avenue SW from East Basin Drive to Independence Avenue SW
- 8:03 a.m.–12:25 p.m., East Basin Drive from Maine Avenue to Ohio Drive
- 8:06 a.m.–12:28 p.m., Independence Avenue SW from Maine Avenue SW to Ohio Drive SW
- 8:13 a.m.–12:35 p.m., 15th Street NW/SW from Constitution Avenue NW to Maine Avenue SW
- 8:15 a.m.–12:55 p.m., Third Street; Pennsylvania Avenue to Maryland Avenue SW
- 8:16 a.m.–12:50 p.m., Pennsylvania Avenue NW from Third Street NW to East Capitol Circle
- 8:16 a.m.–12:50 p.m., First Street; Pennsylvania NW to Maryland Avenue SW
- 8:16 a.m.–12:50 p.m., Pennsylvania Avenue NW from Third Street NW to East Capitol Circle
- 8:16 a.m.–12:50 p.m., First Street, Pennsylvania NW to Maryland Avenue SW
- 8:17 a.m.–12:52 p.m., Maryland Avenue SW from South Capitol Circle to Third Street