My new running route

I’ve considered myself a hobby runner for a few years now. Running has always been something that I’ve never hated, but not always enjoyed. I was pretty quick as a little kid and I think it just stuck with me. I never ran competitively in high school or college, but opted for soccer and tennis instead (I guess soccer is kind of like cross country, right?). When I joined the Army, I always kind of looked forward to the running days when I was in a school or training, usually M-W-F, because it was never really that hard. I’ve always thought it would be cool to run a marathon so in 2019 I ran my first one. (Shout out to Nate King who graciously ran this one with me 85% of the way and has ran each one with me since). More on my running story in a different post.

When Mel and I lived in Pennsylvania, one of our favorite day trips was DC. We enjoyed visiting the Smithsonian, the National Zoo, walking the National Mall, and the general hustle and bustle of the city. I always envied the runners who were casually taking their run through the heart of our Nation’s capital among monuments that pay tribute to generations of great Americans who have served their country as well as the very same ground that has shaped not only our Nation’s history, but the history of the free and democratic world. I thought it would be so cool to have a running route among these sites and places.

A tourist map of the National Mall for reference. The star in Arlington is where we live. (link to original picture)

So now that I’m living a 1 mile run away from the entrance to Arlington National Cemetery and a 2 mile run away from the Lincoln Monument, my everyday running route brings me by and through these places. If I’m looking for a short 2 mile run, I can always go by the US Marine Corps War Memorial and along the edge of the National Cemetery, turn around and come home. Here’s a bit on the USMC War Memorial. Dedicated in 1954 by President Eisenhower on the 179th anniversary of the US Marine Corps, this memorial is “In honor and in memory of the men of the United States Marine Corps who have given their lives to their country since November 10, 1775.” The statue is impressively large at 32 feet tall with a 60 foot bronze flag pole. The Marines in the statue are in the same position as Joe Rosenthal’s iconic photograph on top of Mount Suribachi on the small island of Iwo Jima, 660 miles south of Tokyo, following a very contested and hard fought battle. One of the flag raisers from the photograph and now memorialized in bronze is John Bradley, who was born in Appleton, Wisconsin and lived out his life in Antigo. It is now confirmed that Bradley was not one of the original flag raisers, but stood in for the raising of the flag the second time which was eventually photographed by Rosenthal. Bradley’s son, James Bradley, published a book in 2000 called Flags of Our Fathers which chronicles the stories of the five Marines and one Navy Corpsman (John “Doc” Bradley) who were in the iconic photograph. For those of you not into reading books, Clint Eastwood has turned the book into a movie in 2006 of the same name. I highly recommend the book.

USMC War Memorial is about 1/2 mile from our apartment
Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima, by Joe Rosenthal of the Associated Press

For a slightly longer run of 4 miles, I can run past the USMC Memorial, Arlington National Cemetery, and then run across the Arlington Memorial Bridge and then turn around at the Lincoln Memorial. Here’s some history on the bridge. The bridge was constructed to symbolically show the strength of the union by connecting two memorials, the Lincoln Memorial on the Northern side of the Potomac River, and the Arlington House also known as the Robert E Lee Memorial on the Southern side. Construction began in 1926 and was open for traffic in 1932. Today the bridge serves as a ceremonial entrance to Washington, DC from Virginia and is lined with sculptures, monuments, and memorials where it also serves as an “Avenue of Heroes.” The bridge underwent major reconstruction over the last few years and is once again open to the public. Thank goodness, because this is the quickest route for me to run down to the National Mall!

"Before us is the broad and beautiful river, separating two of the original thirteen States, which a late President [Andrew Jackson]... desired to span with arches of ever-enduring granite, symbolical of the firmly established union of the North and the South." —Secretary of State Daniel Webster, 1851
My runner’s view heading North across the Arlington Memorial Bridge towards the Lincoln Memorial.

Once across the bridge, I have the choice to head East across the National Mall or continue North into Foggy Bottom and Georgetown. Foggy Bottom is home to my current employer, the US Department of State. I mostly prefer to head East since it is much easier for runners and pedestrians to navigate. Towards the Lincoln Memorial, views from the Watergate Steps offer a really cool view of our current neighborhood, Rosslyn.

Looking East from the Watergate Steps towards the Lincoln Memorial
Looking Northeast from the Watergate Steps across the Potomac River towards Rosslyn (Arlington, VA)

To make it all the way around the National Mall from the Lincoln Memorial to the United States Capitol is about a four mile loop (Here’s a pamphlet put together by the National Mall Coalition with a high resolution map). There are plenty of wide walkways that run East-West along the National Mall on both North and South edges. It’s a great place to people watch also with all the various tour groups, people on vacation visiting DC, and the handfuls of other runners. It’s been cold on my first few runs in the new neighborhood, so my performance hasn’t been great. But it is really hard to focus on performance when you are essentially running through the heart of the Capital full of museums and momuments.

West end of the National Mall in front of the Lincoln Memorial

East end of the National Mall in front of the US Capitol

2 thoughts on “My new running route”

  1. If looking for a short speed workout, I’d highly recommend a quick run from the Jefferson Memorial over to the FDR Memorial and back with your goody bag of tourist items! All joking aside, great article! Love watching Strava for the routes you’ve been running!

  2. Last time we were in DC at the Lincoln Memorial, we met our congressman, Mike Gallagher out on a run. He stopped to talk with us and invited us to call his office for a private tour of the Capitol Building and some of the offices. Nice guy to these constituents!

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