2021 Runner Instructions

Parks Half Marathon 2019 – Photo by Alex Reichmann, MCRRC

The 19th annual Parks Half Marathon is just days away! This is confirmation that you are registered for this year’s event.  The race will take you through a scenic course traversing Rock Creek Park ending with a festive post-race bash at the finish line on Beach Drive just south of the Grosvenor Metro

The race is a result of several organizations (the Montgomery County Road Runners, the Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission, and our fantastic sponsors) working together to deliver a half-marathon in the crown jewel of Montgomery County – Rock Creek Park. We are supported by many energetic sponsors and volunteers all with the same mission – deliver a fun and challenging race. But enough about why we’re doing this, here’s what you’ll want to know for the weekend of September 25th and 26th.


Can I take Metro to the start….No
The race starts at 6:45 am sharp and metro does not open early enough to get you there on time.

Is there a course time limit?

Yes, all runners must be able to maintain a pace of at least 12:36 per mile and finish within two hours and forty-five minutes.  Aid stations will close and roads will re-open based on this pace. If you are still on the course after that time you may be asked to move to a side walk and obey all traffic signals and conditions. The finish line will remain open for approximately 30 minutes after the official time. This is done due to permitting requirements from the local jurisdictions

How do we get back to the start where we parked?

Take Metro! The Grosvenor Metro station is located a few hundred yards north of the finish festival. For more information on taking Metro, please visit Metro’s websitePlease note that you must purchase a SmartTrip card as paper fare cards are no longer available. 

Where do I go if I got to go?

Need to pee before the gun goes off? You’re not alone, but you will be if you go anywhere other than in one of port-o-pots lined up near the starting line. We’re guests in the neighborhoods surrounding the starting area and while the plants may need a tinkle of water both police and volunteers will be on alert for anyone looking to self-irrigate. In all seriousness, relieving oneself outside a port-o-pot will result in removing oneself from the race. 

Can I bring walking sticks?

No. As for selfie-sticks, walking sticks, pets, strollers and/or use of wheeled equipment all are prohibited during competition of the Parks Half Marathon. While most runners carry phones we ask that you do not engage in conversation on the course. Please step aside if you need to use your phone for any reason.

Can you tell us about the timing transponders used to time and score Parks?

This years’ “timing chip” will be attached to the back of your numbered bib. This bib must be worn on the front of your body; not in a pocket or on your back. FOR MCRRC MEMBERS – DO NOT USE YOUR LOW KEY MEMBER MCRRC CHIP, OR BIB, FOR THIS RACE. 

Bag Check – how much can I bring?

Backpacks, bags weighing over 5lbs, bags containing liquids will not be accepted. No bikes, strollers or infant car seats or obnoxious spouses are accepted at bag check. You must have your race bib to retrieve your bag at the finish area. Bag pick up will be just beyond the medal distribution area…After all who cares about your car keys…get your medal!!!! 


Hilton Garden Inn Rockville-Gaithersburg

14975 Shady Grove Road, Rockville, Maryland, 20850,   240-507-1800

Courtyard by Marriott Rockville

2500 Research Blvd, Rockville, MD 20850-3209   844-631-0595

Sheraton Rockville Hotel

920 King Farm Blvd, Rockville, MD 20850-6610 240-912-8200

And now for the nitty-gritty, read on….. 

Packet Pickup


Saturday, September 25th from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. The store closes at 6:00 p.m. There is no packet pick up on Friday evening. We are there setting up the tables and packets but the bibs are still being prepped and will not be on site until Saturday morning. Packets and bibs can be picked up Sunday morning form 5:45 am to 6:30 am on Sommerville Rd, outside of the Metro parking lot near the start line.


RnJ Sports Discounters located at: 11910-R Parklawn Drive Rockville, MD 20852.

Click http://www.rnjsports.com for directions.

What to bring to Saturday pick-up….

…. proof of identity:

If you don’t know who you are how are we supposed to know.  Please bring proof of identity. You may pick up a bib for a friend or the entire neighborhood if you are that nice.

Bib numbers will be posted outside RnJ on the window. Please obtain your bib number before entering the store.

Used Running Shoes…PLEASE NOTE….
There WILL NOT be a used shoe drive at Parks packet pick up this year.

… what to take from packet pick-up:

Sorry to mention, but this happens:

  • Race BIB and timing tag…already attached
  • One sweet race Parks Half Marathon running shirt
  • All personal belongings
  • Past years Parks swag purchased at insanely low prices.
  • Safety Pins
  • Any children or spouse(s) you arrived with
  • Stop and make some purchases while you are at RnJ! (Ladies – Kelly, the owner is the best sports bra fitter around)

Race Day Packet Pick-Up

Sunday, September 26th from 5:45 a.m. to 6:30 a.m. SHARP!

Please be aware that this will be a very busy morning and we will be very limited in addressing issues, questions, special needs, or that over obsessed high maintenance type the morning of the race. In fact, it will be very early and not all of our volunteers will have not have switched over to their warm, huggy, and fuzzy mode. So if there is even the remotest of remote chances that you can get to packet pick-up on Saturday you are urged to do so. You will be greeted by smiling faces, unlike those on Sunday morning, will have first dibs on the very nice race premiums, and will have all of your questions answered with a smile and a wink (…really, unlike on Sunday morning). You will also have a great opportunity to make any changes or corrections to your registration if needed… unlike those poor folks that wait until Sunday morning!


Getting to the Start

Park in the Shady Grove Metro lot. It is free on Sundays.

The Start Line is near 15901 Somerville Drive. Rockville MD (Google Maps Link). Walk from the Shady Grove Metro parking lot towards this address.


The Course

It’s all right here, just a click away….

When the Gun Goes Off!

The gun will go off promptly at 6:45 am! It will go off again at 45 second intervals for a total of 3 waves of runners. To better accommodate the crowd and to get you moving at your race pace from the get go we use a wave start. Upon entering the starting coral look for the pace signs held by our pace leaders wearing orange singlets to seed yourself accordingly. Please be honest in self seeding. We’re expecting the largest field size in the seventeen years of this race and greatly want to minimize overcrowding on the trail so that everyone can enjoy their race and the wonderful park system you’ll be running through.

Even though the race is “chip” timed it’s critical that runners get to the starting line on time as the timing mats will be lifted at 7:00 am.

Getting Back to the Start After the Race

For you marathoners, simply turn around after finishing and re-trace your steps back to the start!

Since this is a point-to-point race runners will need to make travel arrangements to return starting area assuming that’s where you parked. Metro rail is the preferred mode of transportation from the finish to the starting area. The Grosvenor Metro Station is a short walk from the finish area.

 We will have volunteers in place to point you in the right direction. Information on Metro can be obtained from their website

Baggage Check

We’ll be glad to take your bag; we’ll even give you the bag. Baggage check will be located near packet pick-up the morning of the race on Sommerville Ave before you get to Redland Rd. This is just beyond the Metro parking lot. We will have a bag and will need to see your bib number for you to use this service. We’ll get it back to you at the finish line.  Bags must be dropped off by 6:35 am.

For security reasons, please do not check the following items:

  • liquids
  • electronics, including phones 
  • large bags
  • annoying children
  • bags over 5 pounds
  • valuables
  • anything you need during the race (shoes, race bib, etc.)

Race officials and/or law enforcement may refuse or destroy any bag or contents deemed suspicious.  We’ll have water and sports drinks for you at the finish.  Make plans in advance to meet friends and family at a specific time and place so you won’t need your phone; it would be a shame if your Miley Cyrus ringtone caused us to blow up your bag.  

Make sure you have everything you need during the race before you check your bag.  Once it is checked, you will not be able to retrieve it until the finish.

During the Race

This is a must-read if you can’t follow you can’t finish:

Need a pacer? We’ve arranged for pacers to bring you to a finishing time from 1 hour and 30 minutes (1:30) to 2 hours and 45 minutes (2:45). Just look for the runners holding signs and wearing bright orange singlets with finish times on their backs.

Race Time Limit

To maintain the integrity of the race and also keep our neighbors happy, runners must maintain a minimum pace of 12:36 per mile in order to finish within two hours and forty-five minutes. Runners exceeding this time constraint will be requested drop from the race or to obey pedestrian traffic laws should they choose to continue running. Runners exceeding this pace need to be aware that AID STATIONS WILL CLOSE ON A 12:36 MINUTE PER MILE BASIS.

Aid stations will be located every two miles on the course with water and lemon-lime Gatorade

….and if it’s just not your day, a SAG/Cooling bus will be pre-positioned at mile 10 where you can board to cool off and rest. Once the last runner has passed, this vehicle will drop anyone wanting a ride to the finish line. Runners unable to finish for medical reasons should check-in with the nearest water stop for help and/or request medical transport.

The No No’s of Running Parks…

Headsets, while permitted, we kindly ask that runners not bring these along. If you must, please consider keeping the volume down and using only one ear bud. We’re not looking out just for your safety but the safety of everyone and everything around you.

Prohibited during competition: Phone calling on the course, texting, posting to the thousands of Facebook & Instagram fans, pets, walking sticks, selfie sticks and any wheeled devices. If you absolutely must text, post, or tweet to the waiting masses please step off the trail to do so. You don’t want to cause a back-up and we don’t want to hear about how a thousand people trampling over your Tweets, Instagram’s, texts, or posts. Selfie-Sticks are a hazard to your fellow runners and are not allowed on the course.

 Needwood Road

The first 2 miles of the course will be on local neighborhood roads with golf courses and churches. While safety is always our concern it is imperative that our runners clear the first two miles in a timely manner. If someone falls behind they may move to the right-hand path alongside Needwood Rd. until they enter the park.

At the Finish

Once finished collect your finisher’s medal & premium and then enjoy some great food from Mama Lucia’s – grilled sausage, New Orleans Egg Souffles, hot pizza, Italian subs, baked ziti, home fries, scrambled eggs, fruit, and drinks while you rest your weary legs and party with the friends you made over the last 13.1 miles at the post-race celebration!


ALL awards listed below will be mailed to finishers after the race.

No duplicate awards will be given. In other words, if you win the Top masters award, you can’t also win your age group. You’ll get one or the other – not both.

Overall Prizes:

  • Top male and female – $500.00
  • Second male and female – $350.00
  • Third male and female – $250.00
  • Fourth male and female – $200.00
  • Fifth male and female – $100.00
  • Top male and female masters – $100.00

Age Group Awards are given to the TOP 3 male and TOP 3 female finishers in each of the following age groups: 18-24, 25-29, 30-34, 35-39, 40-44, 45-49, 50-54, 55-59, 60-64, 65-69, 70-74, 75 & over

  • First Place – $50.00 R&J Sports Gift Cards
  • Second Place – $35.00 R&J Sports Gift Cards
  • Third Place – $25.00 R&J Sports Gift Cards

Adventist Healthcare Relay

Parks Half Marathon Introduces the “Adventist HealthCare Relay”. This is a two-person team. The registration fee is $ 100.00 per team. There is no discounted pricing for the relay. This highly sought-after event will sell through quickly. We are limiting the field for the relay to 100 teams.

Each relay runner will receive a race shirt, finishers premium and a special finishers medal for relay participants.

  • There will be one race bib that is exchanged at the transition point.
  • The first leg is 6 miles and will end at the intersection of Baltimore Rd and the trail.
  • The second leg is 7.1 miles…..go figure!
  • The second leg runners will be transported to the exchange point by buses leaving the start area promptly at 6:15 am. The buses will be located on the east end of Sommerville Drive closest to the porta potties.
  • The runners will be responsible for getting to and on the buses on time. Since several of the roads will be closed leading to the exchange point it is necessary for you to be prompt.  If you choose to be dropped off near the exchange area, you will walk in past the road closures. There will be no motorized traffic permitted to the exchange area with the exception of the buses.
  • After the exchange the first runners will be transported to the corner of Franklin St. and Beach Drive…100 yards from the finish so that both runners can run in together.
  • The first leg runner will need to maintain a STRICT pace no less than 12:36 per mile. The final bus will leave for Franklin Street (near the finish) 1 hour and 24 minutes after the last person crosses the starting mats. This way first and second leg runners can run the final hundred yards and cross the finish line together.
  • There will be no transportation back to the start area from the exchange point.
  • First leg runners should alert their partner regarding the color of their shirt and their approximate pace so that second leg runners know what to look for and when to expect them.
  • All finishers may Metro back to the start or arrange for their own transportation back.
    • Grosvenor Metro is 500 yards up the Rockville Pike

Weather Contingencies

We don’t want them either, but ’tis the season for rain, flooding, flying cattle, and D.C. area humidity. Be sure to check here in the event that severe weather concerns are forecasted for race weekend. Impacts, if any, to race weekend will be posted on the race website starting the Wednesday before the race.

Medical Instructions for Race Day

Runners if you have an allergy that requires you to use an Epipen please carry your own race day. We do not have a supply of EpiPens. We do have ambulances and paramedics.

If you need to use it you should speak to the closest medical volunteer on the course and they will call an ambulance to take you to the hospital. Anytime Epipens are used it is important to get medical attention. Allergic reactions don’t always respond and you may need further treatment. Epinephrine elevates you heart rate and you should stop running.

Runners with asthma should carry their own inhalers. If you use your inhaler and don’t feel like you are breathing better please go to the nearest aid station or tell one of the bike spotters or Emergency Medical Bikers.

When running please listen to your body and if you show signs of heat-related illness or dehydration stop and get help.

Headache, extreme weakness, dizziness, heat cramps, chills/lack of sweating, nausea, vomiting, fainting, hyperventilation, impaired judgment, muscular incoordination, confusion

There are multiple medical aid stations on the course. There is also a cooling bus at approximately mile 10 – near Dewey Park. There will be bike spotters and emergency medical bike medics on the course. If you need help any pace group leader has a phone and can help you. All these resources are there and hopefully no one has a medical problem and needs them but if they do please reach out and get help!

Medical Volunteers will be wearing bright orange or green vests that say “Medical”.

Out of Towners

Need a place to stay? There are several hotels within just a few miles of the starting line at the Shady Grove Metro Station. All are listed under “Runner Info” at https://parkshalfmarathon.com/. 

Finally Our Sponsors

We’re looking forward to presenting you with a great race, offering lucrative awards, and delivering some very nice premiums along with a fun and festive post-race party. Of course none of this would be possible without the generous support of our sponsors which can all be viewed on our home page at https://parkshalfmarathon.com/. Please take a moment to view this page and give them your business when and where the opportunity arises.

We look forward to seeing you at the finish line on September 26th and hope you have a great race!

Please note that MCRRC donates proceeds from this race to several local charities as part of our contribution and our mission to social values and social responsibilities.

Have a great race!

Don Shulman,
Race Director, Parks Half Marathon