Marine Corps Marathon 2019: Road closures and traffic, what you need to know

If you were thinking of hitting the road this Sunday … maybe don’t.

The 44th annual Marine Corps Marathon puts its best foot forward this weekend, and with 30,000 marathoners moving around Arlington, Virginia and the District, there will be significant road closures throughout the D.C. area.

Street closures start at 3 a.m. Oct. 27 and last until after the 26.2-mile MCM course officially shuts down at 3 p.m. Read the full list of affected streets on the Marine Corps Marathon website (PDF).

In addition U.S. Capitol Police announced that the following streets on the U.S. Capitol grounds will be closed beginning around 6 a.m.

  • Pennsylvania Avenue NW between First and Third streets NW
  • First Street NW between Constitution Avenue NW and Peace Circle
  • First Street SW between Garfield Circle and First Street SW
  • Maryland Avenue SW between First and Third streets SW

D.C. police will also close Third Street NW/SW between Constitution and Independence avenues.

The starting line is on Route 110, between the Pentagon and Arlington Memorial Drive.

The course runs through D.C., into the Tidal Basin, along the Potomac, through Georgetown into Arlington, and finishes at the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial.

The MCM course map (PDF).

Marine Corps Marathon 2019 course map. Click for PDF. (Courtesy Marine Corps Marathon)
Marine Corps Marathon 2019 course map. Click for PDF. (Courtesy Marine Corps Marathon)

The MCM10K is also happening Sunday and starts at 7:55 a.m. The starting line is on Madison Drive NW between 4th and 7th streets.

The MCM10K course map (PDF).

The Marine Corps Marathon 10K course. (Click for PDF)

New this year is the MCM50K, which runs the full MCM course with an additional 4.87-mile diversion at mile 4.5. It shares the same MCM starting line but runners will begin earlier.

The MCM50K course map (PDF).

The Marine Corps Marathon 50K course map. (Click for PDF)

What will the impact on D.C. traffic be? ‘Rush hour on a Sunday’

Arlington and Washington have hosted the Marine Corps Marathon since 1976, so while people can hope that drivers have gotten good at dealing with the influx of people and shifting road routes, significant gridlock is expected.

WTOP Traffic Reporter Mary DePompa described it as “rush hour on a Sunday.”

“This is one of the rare races that covers a lot of arteries coming in and out of the District, so it leaves minimal places where you can get to. This was like one that happened (recently), the Army 10-miler, almost the same kind of course except they didn’t go up the Rock Creek Parkway,” DePompa said.

“So the problems lie in getting in and out of town, because you have the limited bridges … it’s a very big race and encompassing a lot of territory and touching in all quadrants of the city, so that’s what makes it problematic.”

The road closures start extremely early and don’t end until late in the afternoon. That means streets can get really clogged and traffic takes longer to dissipate.

DePompa said she’s heard from a lot of listeners during these races from people trying to get out of the city.

“Sometimes it’s harder because you have to go, if you live in Northwest, you’ve got to go all the way over to the Southwest side of town and then you try to work back to the freeway and it’s all clogged up,” she said.

Drivers effectively can’t exit the city to the west. So if you need to cross the Potomac, plan to do so either extremely early, before the closures start at 3 a.m., or later in the evening.

As for gridlock, DePompa said since the closures start so early in the morning and last so long, despite having generally less traffic, “the damage is done” by the time authorities reopen streets.

But if you have to drive in D.C. this Sunday?

“You definitely should plan, definitely get a look at the map and figure out where you’re going because it is harder for those downtown to go west, to work their way through, because the freeway, the one artery that will be available, is going to be really crowded,” DePompa said. “Definitely check the website. Check the map. Know where you’re going. Tune in to 103.5.”

WTOP Traffic always reports on the 8s.

Listen to WTOP live online.

Metrorail: What to expect

It’s going to get crowded.

Metrorail is opening at 6 a.m. for the Marine Corps Marathon and will provide extra Blue and Yellow Line trains in anticipation of the crowds.

  • The closest station to the marathon and 50K start line is Pentagon Station on the Blue and Yellow lines. The station will be exit only until 8:30 a.m. Pentagon City Station is another alternative for riders trying to get to the start line.
  • The closest stations to the start of the 10K are Archives-Navy Memorial and L’Enfant Plaza.
  • Arlington Cemetery station will be closed until approximately 8:30 a.m.
  • There will be additional Yellow Line trains between Huntington and Mt. Vernon Square stations from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m.
  • There will be additional Blue Line trains between Franconia-Springfield and Stadium-Armory station from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. and from 11:15 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.

Metrobus: What to expect

Metrobus service to and from the Pentagon Bus Terminal will be diverted to Pentagon City on Saturday until 2 p.m. and on Sunday until 4 p.m.

Metrobus service from the Rosslyn Bus Terminal will be relocated to Oak Street on Sunday from 4 a.m. to about 6 p.m.

To avoid long lines at the stations and terminals, Metro recommends buying a SmarTrip card loaded with enough money for the entire day. SmartTrip cards can be purchased at vending machines located at station entrances or at commuter stores and participating stores.

World Series impact

To make things even more interesting, a host of road closures have been announced for the Washington Nationals’ World Series home games Friday, Saturday and (if needed) Game 5 Sunday.

The good news is that, according to DePompa, the Marine Corps Marathon is not expected to impact Game 5, and vice versa.

The Marine Corps Marathon course officially shuts down at 3 p.m. Game 5, if it happens, doesn’t start until 8:07 p.m.

Still, the following streets will be restricted to local and event traffic for all home games and watch parties from 3 p.m. to around midnight:

  • Half Street Southeast between M and N streets Southeast.
  • Van Street Southeast between M and N streets Southeast (access to residential parking garages will be permitted).
  • N Street Southeast between First Street Southeast and New Jersey Avenue Southeast (access to parking lots will be permitted).
  • Potomac Avenue Southeast from First to South Capitol streets Southeast.

The following streets will be closed to all vehicles during all home games and watch parties from 3 p.m. to around midnight:

  • Half Street Southeast between M and N streets Southeast.
  • N Street Southeast between Nationals Park GEICO parking garage (Van Street Southeast) and First Street Southeast.
  • N Place Southeast.

WTOP’s Abigail Constantino and Zeke Hartner contributed to this report.

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