Set for its 13th annual running on May 1st along the C&O Canal Towpath that unfolds alongside the river that gives the race its name, the Potomac River Run Marathon & Half Marathon is actually run twice each year — there’s this springtime race and another run in the fall, which will be the “12 1/2” annual Potomac River Run.
This race — which bills itself as the “easiest marathon and half marathon in America” — is part of a group of running events that take place each year on the C&O Canal Towpath trail, which runs alongside the 184-mile-long Chesapeake & Ohio Canal that stretches all the way from the tidal basin in Washington, D.C. to the mountains of western Maryland.
As advertised, the race is easy largely because it’s virtually all flat the entire way. Don’t let the elevation profile on the course map page fool you — the course rises some 70 feet between the starting line and the half-way turnaround point, but the rise is so gradual over the course of those 6.55 miles that it’s likely you’ll barely notice it.
Runners start the race at Fletchers Cove, an inlet on the river that lies just off the Potomac Palisades Parkway and Canal Road. From there, the race heads onto the C&O Canal trail, which runners will follow northwest as it curves along the river.