Sunday, June 12, 2016

Course Guide: Women's Distance Festival 5k

The Women's Distance Festival is a small race with a ton of spirit. The race is for women only and most of the volunteers are men.

There are fun decorations, signs, and awards (age group & multi-generational) that are selected to go with the annual theme. Past themes include:

  • 2014: Ladies Go Green (potted plants for awards)
  • 2015: Ladies Sizzle (frying pans for awards)
  • 2016: Ladies Power Up (handheld dumbbells for awards)

The race premiums also match the theme, and include a technical race t-shirt, specially designed socks, a small bag, and a finisher hat or visor. Sometimes there are extra surprises, too. Post-race food and beverages are plentiful.

Most of the race is on the W&OD and neighboring trails such as the Sugarland Run Trail. The first two miles are net downhill; the third is net uphill.

Elevation Map - scale is exaggerated; mile markers are approximate

course map from my Garmin

Official Course Map (source)

Mile 1

  • Loop around the Reston Executive Center - the least scenic part of the race. Watch for potholes & uneven surfaces.
  • Onto the W&OD Trail for about 1/2 mile
  • Begin loop around a small lake; mile marker 1 is on the far side of the lake
  • Some short, steep hills, but overall a net downhill

Mile 2

  • Water stop about 3/4 mile in (mile 1.75)
  • Finish loop around the lake
  • Back onto W&OD Trail
  • Into the woods, working towards Sugarland Run Trail (watch for poison ivy)
  • Turn around at Elden St, mile marker 2 is just past turnaround
  • Again, some short, steep hills, but overall a net downhill

Mile 3.1

  • Water stop about 1/4 mile in (mile 2.25 - same stop you passed last mile)
  • Sugarland Run Trail out to W&OD Trail
  • W&OD trail back to the turn for the YMCA
  • Mile marker 3 is a bit past the top of the last hill
  • What goes down, must come up - this section is a net uphill
  • It's hard to see where the turn is
    • Watch where the runners ahead of you are turning to help you decide when to kick
    • The finish line is just after the turn, which is a little awkward to navigate when you are at top speed

Recaps from past races:


  1. This sounds like a great race! I really liked your three-year perspective -- it IS a journey, isn't it?!

    1. Thank you Anne! It is indeed a journey...usually with a surprise destination :)

  2. As always such a well described race recap. Love the fact that most of the volunteers are men. Volunteering is something I have not done yet, but sometime in the future I would like to be on that very important other side of the race!

    And great sounding swag that would be cool to come home with! :)

    1. You will make a wonderfully supportive race volunteer. Maybe you can volunteer for a race Caron is running that you aren't also running :)

  3. I've not even heard of this race! How is that possible?

    1. You'll have to run it next year! You would almost surely win an age group award. My understanding is that years ago this race was part of a series of races in the DC area and that they were huge and well-publicized. I think this is the only one that is left and it's pretty small and under the radar at this point. I'll remind you to sign up next year ;)

    2. it looks like there may still be one in Frederick:

    3. Wow - there is still a whole series in Maryland: