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Sunday's Marine Corps Marathon to bring traffic, transit challenges

By Luz Lazo

October 20, 2017 at 8:00 AM

Participants raise their arms as they cross the finish line during the 41st Marine Corps Marathon in 2016. (Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)

The annual Marine Corps Marathon, one of the biggest street events in the Washington region, will close many roadways along the Potomac River in the District and Arlington on Sunday.

About 30,000 people will run a 26.2-mile route that starts and ends in Arlington, and takes runners across the Potomac into Georgetown, Rock Creek Park and the Mall area for spectacular views of the monuments. Thousands of supporters will cheer them along, which means sidewalks will be crowded too.

The massive crowds and road closures will make driving and parking challenging. The best advice to anyone planning to drive near or within the marathon’s perimeter Sunday: Don’t.

Use public transit instead. Metro is opening two hours early to accommodate marathon crowds, and the transit agency is adding extra trains. See Metro details below.

Related: [Metro will open two hours early for Marine Corps Marathon]

Runners and spectators can expect relatively pleasant weather Sunday morning — and it should be dry and mostly sunny, according to the Capital Weather Gang. The forecast calls for highs in the mid- to upper 70s. Keep an eye out for a more detailed forecast closer to Sunday.

This map will help you explore the 2017 Marine Corps Marathon.  Keep reading for more travel tips and a full list of the street closings.

The event

The marathon officially starts at 7:45 a.m.  The start line is on Route 110 between the Pentagon and Arlington Memorial Drive. The course remains open until 3 p.m. The Finish Festival, where runners meet up with their supporters, is in the area around Wilson Boulevard and North Lynn Street in Rosslyn. This is close to the Rosslyn Metro station. The Finish Festival wraps up around 4 p.m.

Remember that besides the marathon, events also includes a 10K Sunday that will take participants from the U.S. Capitol to the Marine Corps War Memorial. There also is a Kids Run on Saturday where as many as 3,600 children will participate in a one-mile run at the Pentagon parking lot.

A packet pickup and health and fitness expo will be held at the Gaylord National Resort starting Friday.  This will add to traffic to National Harbor in Prince George’s County.

Related: [31 marathons, 31 days, 31 cities: After losing both legs in Afghanistan, he’s running to inspire]

Getting there

Metrorail. Metro will open at 6 a.m., two hours early, for the marathon.

The closest Metro station to the marathon start line is Pentagon station on the Blue and Yellow lines.  It also tends to be very crowded on race morning, so participants should consider using the Pentagon City station, also on the Blue and Yellow lines.

Arlington Cemetery station doesn’t open till 8:30 a.m., after the marathon is underway, but it is an easy walk to and from the finish area. The Rosslyn station, on the Blue, Orange and Silver lines, also is within walking distance of the finish line.

Metro will run additional Blue Line trains between Franconia-Springfield and Stadium-Armory between 6 and 9 a.m. and between 11:15 a.m. and 4:15 p.m. Extra Yellow Line trains will be available at Huntington and Mount Vernon Square from 6 to 9 a.m.

If you are going to the 10K on the Mall, the closest stations to the start line are Archives and L’Enfant Plaza.

Riders are encouraged to purchase SmarTrip cards in advance to avoid the crush at fare machines. Riders age 5 or older need their own card to enter the system.

Metrobus. The Pentagon bus terminal will be closed Saturday until 2 p.m. to accommodate the Marine Corps Marathon Kids Run and all day Sunday for the main event. During those hours,  buses will use the Pentagon City station.

The Rosslyn bus terminal will be closed from 4 a.m. to about 6 p.m. Buses will be relocated to Oak Street.

Nearly two dozen Metrobus routes will be detoured because of the marathon and 10K. Riders should anticipate delays.

Driving. Getting around by car will be extremely difficult. Several major roadways  and bridges will close, including Route 110, Washington Boulevard, Rock Creek and Potomac parkways, Wisconsin Avenue, M Street, Constitution and Independence avenues, along with some of the major gateways into the city: the Key Bridge, Memorial Bridge and 14th Street bridge.

Runners may be dropped off at a Kiss and Run lots on the corner of Army Navy Drive and Fern Street.

Parking. Free parking will be available at the corner of 23rd Street and Crystal Drive, near the Metro station and the shuttle. Parking Sunday is free at all Metro lots and garages.

Road Closures

Road closures for the 42nd Marine Corps Marathon begin at 3:30 a.m. Sunday. Local jurisdictions will reopen roads after the event course closes at 3:30 p.m. Some streets may remain closed until the evening. Marine Corps Marathon organizers have compiled this full list of streets that will be affected, including times of closures.

In Arlington, streets will begin to close at 4 a.m. Sunday.  These are the streets that will be impacted in the county:

D.C. police said the following streets and bridges will close in the District, starting at 5 a.m. Sunday and are expected to reopen by 1 p.m.


Luz Lazo writes about transportation and development. She has recently written about the challenges of bus commuting, Metro’s dark stations, and the impact of sequestration on air travel.

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