In Grand Rapids, Mich., Will Albers is breaking in a new pair of Brooks running shoes and "lifting some light weights." In New Delhi, Robert D. Hirst probably is flexing and jogging from one board room to another.

The two are gearing up for the third annual District of Columbia Marathon, a race each has won once. Albers, a former Fairfax high school track coach and now a promoter for Brooks shoes, won the marathon in 1981, its first year. Hirst, 35, a Washington investment officer with the International Finance Corp., won in 1982.

At 8 a.m. Sunday, April 24, the two men expect to meet again in the third marathon sponsored by the D.C. Department of Recreation.

"It's my favorite run," Albers said. "It's like my own little run. I guess winning it first didn't hurt. But also, the people from the Recreation Department are very friendly. They try to have a good, professional race.

"Bob Hirst is probably in better shape than me," said Albers, who insists he's running for fun this year. "I travel a lot on this job and that hinders my training," he said, adding, " . . . I'll always come back to D.C. to run, no matter what shape I'm in."

Hirst also does a lot of traveling. He wasn't scheduled to return to Washington from New Delhi until last Monday, said his secretary, Tin Aye. "He usually trains wherever he is," she said. "Believe it or not, he was in India this time last year, and he trained."

The route Hirst, Albers and an anticipated 1,500 other runners will take stretches 26 miles, 385 yards, touching the city's eight wards, past low-income housing developments, garden apartments and trendy row houses.

Runners will begin at the Mall, wind through Georgetown and cross the 11th Street Bridge. They will continue along Minnesota Avenue, around Catholic University to Piney Branch Road and across the Duke Ellington Bridge to Rock Creek Park before returning to the Mall.

Another well-known runner in the race will be Washington Redskins general manager Bobby Beathard, Recreation Department spokesman Larry Brown said.

The department has held two free premarathon clinics, and a third is scheduled April 23 at the Disabled American Veterans National Service & Legislative Headquarters, 807 Main Ave. SW.

There will be categories for male and female runners according to age and special categories for walkers and persons in wheelchairs. The first District resident to complete the run will receive the Mayor's Award. All runners who complete the course will receive a marathon patch and a copy of a marathon souvenir program book.

The deadline for marathon applications is April 18. Official entry forms can be obtained by calling 673-6645 or by writing to: Race Director, District of Columbia Marathon, D.C. Department of Recreation, 3149 16th St. NW, Washington, D.C., 20010. A five-kilometer fun run will begin immediately after the start of the marathon. Fun run entrants are encouraged to preregister by mail, although they can register the day of the race.

On May 22, the Washington Urban League will hold its 15-kilometer Home Town Run and a three-kilometer fun run. The entry fee is $5 for the Home Town Run and $1 for the fun run. For an application, send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to: Washington Urban League, 3501 14th St. NW, Washington, D.C., 20010, or call 265-8200 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays.