Any runner has a list of races that are on a bucket list. Whether it be a generic racing goal like completing a marathon or a desire to complete a race you once saw in a Runners World, creating a list of must-do races is something that we as runners simply cannot help but avoid doing.
For me, the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Miler is one of those races that I have always wanted to do. The photos of the race showing the cherry blossoms in full bloom throughout Washington, DC is one of the main draws I have had toward the race. Having run the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, there is something about running past sites so richly a part of our nation’s history that is simply awe-inspiring and downright remarkable.
I flew into Washington on Saturday morning and did the typical tourist things of checking out sites like the White House, Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial. The race had a great runner’s expo where number and shirt pick-up took place and a great variety of running businesses, charities and races hosted booths showcasing what each had to offer. The expo was well-organized and not overly crowded which was a nice fit.
Sunday morning the race kicked off at 7:30 AM at the Washington Monument so race organizers advised you to take the Metro to the starting line early enough to avoid the crowds. Assuming for packed Metro trains, I left my hotel around 5:45 and made my way from the hotel just a few stops over to Smithsonian and walked to the starting line. I was one of the earlier runners to arrive and battled a still brisk morning in a sweatshirt and my running gear. It would have been nice if a tent was available f0r runners but no such luck so huddled on a park bench it was for me.
When the race was ready to kick off the announcer advised runners to make their way to their respective chutes arranged by waves based upon anticipated times. The chutes and waves were perfectly paced in terms of kickoffs and by the time I was ready to hit the course I ditched the sweatshirt over the barriers and was off to hit the streets of D.C.
The Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Miler took place on some of the same roads that the Marine Corps Marathon I completed in 2010 traversed so some of the sights were familiar. The crowds were quite supportive along the way with some great signs, boisterous cheers and even an unofficial beer and Oreo aid station available. The official water stops were staffed to perfection and offered runners both Gatorade and water.
Though not all of the cherry blossoms were in full bloom, pockets of them began blooming and made for a pretty scenery to enjoy while running. The beauty of running in DC is there is always something to look at which makes the running that much more enjoyable. Out on the course, I ran naked from a watch and didn’t pay much attention to my time at the splits but felt as though I was running a pretty strong race. With a couple of jelly beans around the Mile 8 mark I felt I had enough in the tank to make a good push on the course.
Overall, the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler was a great experience and I am glad that I got to compete in the race once. It was a well organized, scenic and enjoyable run that certainly was a racing experience I will not soon forget. I finished the race with a time of 1:22:32 good for 8:15/miles.