I started writing a recap for this series last year but I waited until the very end… which just wouldn’t have done this series justice. So here we are, a recap of the series in 2018!
What is this? The race series is the Women’s Distance Festival Grand Prix. It’s a series of women’s only 5ks put on by the various “Road Runner Clubs” (or Striders) throughout the state. All events are very women-centric, low key, well organized, inexpensive and a lot of fun!
If a participant completes 5 or more of the series, they earn extra swag! In 2017, ladies who completed 5 or more earned a running belt!
As I recap, I will include a description of the course with a touch of weather. I’ll include amenities since I will assume they will be there each year. Extras will be things that may change over the years.
Race 1: Howard Country Striders – Women’s Distance Festival (June 2018)
It was super humid on race morning. Race started and finished at Howard Community College. The course took you through the neighborhood by the school. Course highlight: the horses about a quarter mile from half way. There were some spectators out and the running club had ample volunteers/cheerleaders along the course (one even had napkins which were wonderful since I felt like I was melting!). There are inclines along the way – I won’t call them hills but you are definitely going up more so than down.
This was the first year I have completed this leg of the series.
Amenities: race shirt, tote from Lululemon, cold towels at the finish, random prizes, cold water bottles, placement/age/team awards, school access with real bathrooms
Extras: post race snacks included watermelon, assorted chips and pretzels (seriously, I was making snack decisions post race – there were so many options!), bananas, twizzlers, cookies; vendors included a chiropractor and a beauty academy — doing braids (I adore braid bars at races!)
Race 2: Run for Roses – Montgomery County Road Runners (June 2018)
Another humid race morning for this multi-terrain race. Race starts and ends at at Wheaton Regional Park. The course takes you from the park parking lot, through a neighborhood, across a beaten path (between 2 streets), into the woods on a paved trail, gravel path, actual trail (complete with roots – stupid roots), back to paved trail. It’s a very pretty race with lots of shade but I highly recommend a hat (you go through the woods – I do not want to find any surprises in my hair post race).
This is the third year I have participated in this race.
Amenities: race shirt, rose, finisher certificate, picnic pavilion filled with post race goodies, random prizes, placement/age/team awards, real bathrooms, kids run
Extras: vendors are also invited to the park so there could be freebies and services offered
Race 3: Women’s Distance Festival – Westminster Road Runners Club (July 2018)
Great running weather for this event and beautiful scenery. This course starts and ends at a small pavilion just passed the historic Union Mills homestead (dates back to the Civil War). Course starts and ends in grass too (not my favorite). It’s an easy out and back along a country road. Fair warning: the road is not shut down so you must be aware and alert at all times. This is not a headphones race.
This is the first year I have participated in this race.
Amenities: random prizes; both bibs and medals are donated from other races in the series – if you are a die hard for swag, I would not run this leg of the series.
Extras: costume contest and post race, you can go out to breakfast with other ladies from the race (so bring your money).
Race 4: Women’s Distance Festival – Annapolis Striders (July 2018)
The humidity makes a comeback for this race! Good thing this race has access to a school for you to hang out in until it gets closer to the start. Course is gently rolling through a pretty shaded neighborhood. You make two loops of the neighborhood. Once you finish, you are rewarded with a deliciously cold (and wet) towel. Make your way back into the school to the feast (literally) that awaits you – from fruit to freshly baked cookies, anything you could want is provided post race. You can also enjoy a popsicle and watch the start of the men’s race – appropriately called: Race after the Women.
This is the second time I have run this race.
Amenities: umbrella, cooling towel, random prizes, school access with real bathrooms, age/overall awards
Race 5: Women’s Distance Festival – Frederick Steeplechasers (August 2018)
My last leg was also plagued with humidity. Race starts and ends at the community college. Course is not too challenging except there is very little shade. You will run around the parking lot, doing one out and back to add some distance, and then head out to do a loop of the neighborhood. The police/volunteers do a good job of preventing traffic, however, the neighbors don’t seem to think runner safety is important – since they leave their driveways in their cars anyway. Once you finish, you are rewarded with another deliciously cold, wet towel and a cold bottled water.
This event also has the best pre and post race festival. The parking lot is full of vendors – from races to runner services to runner products – be sure to visit!
This is the second time I have run this race.
Amenities: shirt, tote with goodies, cooling towel, random prizes, kids run, age/overall/team awards, school access with real bathrooms
Extras: there’s a fun photo op with props you can do if you are with some friends
All of the above events have free parking. They also have day of packet pickup. I am based in Baltimore, MD and each event was a relatively easy drive, with my max driving distance being close to 90 minutes (I get lost easily sometimes or my GPS gets confused). All of the above races also have a registration cost of $30 or less. I highly recommend this series if you are in Maryland.
Lastly, and for full disclosure, this season I served as an ambassador for Endure Jewelry. At each event, I donated bracelets from Endure to be used as prizes for the random prizes portion of the event or for the overall prizes (Annapolis). For the Annapolis event, I did receive free registration (I would have donated even without receiving anything in exchange). If you get a chance, check out my friend’s designs – she is brilliant and creative – use code: Meghan for 10% off! I have been honored to share her work with the ladies of Maryland throughout this series.