[This post has been updated.]
The best way to get around the District on Saturday may be to join the runners in the Rock ’n’ Roll Marathon. Many others will just have to wait out the annual event that does more than any other to create traffic detours, congestion and confusion.
Why is this so different from other big events like, say, the Marine Corps Marathon? It’s on a Saturday rather than a Sunday, so regular traffic is heavier. And the route takes in a wider swath of neighborhoods than the other events, which tend to hug the Potomac River corridor and the Mall. Do your weekend shopping early — like, by Friday.
The 7 a.m. start is at Constitution Avenue and 14th Street NW. The marathon continues till 2 p.m., with a finish line in Lot 3 at RFK Stadium. D.C. police say some street closings will begin at 2 a.m., although most will occur during the event. All streets should be open by 3 p.m. Police can always adjust to prevailing conditions and temporarily open some access points along the route when no runners are in the vicinity.
Watch for “No Parking” signs along the route. Streets generally reopen as the last runners pass by and any race equipment is removed from that sector.
See the course map below for the marathon, half marathon and 5K run. The map is a bit different from previous years, but the event still is very likely to have a high impact on streets in neighborhoods that include Capitol Hill, Adams Morgan, Columbia Heights, Southwest Waterfront and Anacostia. Driving on the South Capitol Street and East Capitol Street bridges also will be affected. See the D.C. police department’s list of street closings.
The sponsors are in a new partnership with Waze, the travel guidance app. Waze will incorporate the street closing schedule into the app. Its alerts and push notifications will offer alternative routes, parking options and information on detours and traffic congestion.
Important note for the runners, who will likely number about 25,000: Metrorail is not opening early this time. The subway system won’t be available until its usual Saturday start time of 7 a.m. Participants can reserve parking in Lots 6 and 7 at RFK Stadium for $16.50 per car. The event sponsors arranged for a shuttle bus service from RFK to the start line, but that’s by reservation only and the seats are now filled up.
The event sponsors have a discount deal with the SpotHero parking reservation service, so drivers can look for off-street parking within walking distance of the start line.
Also, there will be a runner drop-off point at 14th Street and Independence Avenue SW, which is about three-tenths of a mile from the start.
The start times of the marathon and half marathon were adjusted to account for Metro’s new restrictions on its opening and closing hours. In years past, the sponsors of big events could request an earlier opening or later closing if they agreed to cover Metro’s operating costs for the extra time.
The half-marathon draws about four times more participants than the marathon, and half-marathoners have a good shot at reaching the 8:30 a.m. start via Metrorail.
The D.C. Streetcar will suspend Saturday service along H Street and Benning Road NE until the marathon passes, about 1 p.m.
D.C. Circulator will modify two bus routes on Saturday. The National Mall route will delay opening until 10 a.m. The Woodley Park-Adams Morgan-McPherson Square route will detour around its stops near Harvard Street NW. Buses will turn back at Florida Avenue NW between 7 a.m. and noon.
These are the stops that will not be served between 7 a.m. and noon:
- Southbound Connecticut Avenue NW at 24th Street, Adams Mill Road NW at Columbia Road, Columbia Road NW at Ontario Road NW, Mount Pleasant Street NW at Irving Street, Irving Street NW at 14th Street.
- Northbound Columbia Road NW at 14th Street, Columbia Road NW between 15th and 16th streets, Columbia Road NW at Ontario Road, Adams Mill Road NW at Columbia Road, Connecticut Avenue NW at 24th Street.
The neighborhood that I hear the most complaints from each year is Capitol Hill. So here’s some extra information from the marathon sponsors that may help those folks plot routes.
These streets will be closed from about 7 to 11:30 a.m. Saturday:
- East Capitol Street NE from 22nd to 19th streets NE and from 11th Street SE to Second Street NE
- Pennsylvania Avenue SE westbound from Fourth Street SE to Second Street SE
- Independence Avenue eastbound from Second to Third Street SE
- Third Street SE from East Capitol to E Street SE
Open during the marathon:
- Hopscotch Bridge along H Street NE north of Union Station, Third Street Tunnel, Interstate 395, Southeast-Southwest Freeway
- Massachusetts Avenue NE west of 10th Street NE
- Independence Avenue west of Second Street SE and east of Third Street SE
- Pennsylvania Avenue SE east of Fourth Street SE
- Constitution Avenue west of 13th Street NE
To cross East Capitol Street during the race, use access points at Fourth, Sixth, Eighth and 10th streets, but watch for police direction. Enter the Southeast-Southwest Freeway via Eighth, Sixth or Fourth streets SE. To reach areas north of East Capitol Street, use the Third Street Tunnel.