There is a reason why Runner's World picked the National Mall as their Rave Run for July 2010. RW's reason to run this route: "Not many five-mile runs can boast such historic scenery as a loop of the National Mall can."
I was in D.C. for work on Monday, so I decided to give their theory a test-drive. After all, there is nothing I love to do more while traveling than run. It covers "exercise" "sight-see" and "act like a local" all in one activity. Over the years I have run in dozens of cities, but despite the fact that I've been to D.C. a handful of times in the past, I had never run the Mall before.
Sunday after my plane landed and I arrived at the hotel, I immediately changed into running clothes. I stopped at the front desk to double-check the route from my hotel to the Mall. While I was discussing running options with the front desk staff, two Navy officers overheard the conversation and offered perfect details about the route. They had run the same route that morning and said I'd love it. They were not mistaken.
The route from my hotel took me through the Capitol Hill neighborhood and around the Mall.
I have to admit that I slowed to a stroll through the United States Botanic Garden, the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden, and the Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden. But I doubled back and forth across the Mall, too, passing dozens of teams playing kickball and families having picnics.
The Reflecting Pool is closed for repairs, which made running the trail along it a bit tricky (pedestrian traffic was corralled between fences for the nearly half-mile length of the pool).
I started to run up the stairs of the Lincoln Memorial... err... until I saw the sign that said "no running." Oops!
The Capitol steps were equally off-limits, but for security reasons. But no worries. Running up Capitol Hill at the end of my trek was good enough for me. The wide pedestrian walkways and beautiful grounds around the building were a perfect end to a very memorable run.