Overall: Good race, I would run it again.
Race Tips: Highly recommend staying at the National Harbor the night before the race. My running buddy and I opted to drive the morning of the race. Bad idea. Not only was it a super early day (I was up at 3:30am) but with the amount of cars leaving the garages after the race, we were stuck in our parking spot for 35 minutes. After 13.1 miles, cold, wet, and tired, sitting in a car for 35 mins is not fun.
Another race tip, add trail running into your training. the last stretch between mile posts 12 and 13 are on unpaved, gravel with occasional decent sized rocks. The race organizers called it their ‘achille’s heel.’ A little trail running will help you adjust to hitting that patch at the end of the race.
Course / Elevation: Rolling hills – and that’s an understatement. The course went from Mt. Vernon, VA to National Harbor, MD across the Woodrow Wilson Bridge (hence the name of the race). Miles 1 – 9 is along the GW parkway and very hilly, but gorgeous along the Potomac River. Miles 9 – 10.5 is across the bridge. Going up the bridge was a challenge, but coming back down and running on the board walk to National Harbor was flat and pretty. I found the most challenging part of the course to be the gravel between Miles 12 and 13. I was not used to running on gravel and plus the course narrows and made it difficult to pass or allow others to pass me. I walked most of this section.
Logistics: Other than the parking situation that I mentioned earlier, they also ran out of Gatorade at some of the stations. I was running at about a 10min/mile pace at the time and was surprised to find that they’re out of Gatorade. There were still more than half of the folks in the race behind me. Also, since the race started and ended in different locations, runners were shuttled to the start. Given the road closures, the buses were running super early. So we were dropped off at the start of the race 1.5 hours prior to the race start. It’s not good or bad, but something to be aware of. We made friends with other runners and kept warm by jogging and, of course, hitting the porta potties.
Anything Else? 2012 was only the 3rd year they did this race. I suspect it will only get better as the years go on. It is a smaller race (compared to the Rock N Roll marathons that I am used to). As brutal as the course was, my friend PR’d the course by finishing it in 1 hour 34 mins. I was on my way to PR the race before I hit the wall.