Potomac River Run Marathon & Half Marathon

Sunday, May 4, 2024 • Washington, DC • Course Map

Set for its 21st running along the C&O Canal Towpath that unfolds alongside the river that gives the race its name, the Potomac River Run Marathon & Half Marathon is actually run twice each year — there’s this springtime race and another run in the fall.

This race — which bills itself as the “easiest marathon and half marathon in America” — is part of a group of running events that take place each year on the C&O Canal Towpath trail, which runs alongside the 184-mile-long Chesapeake & Ohio Canal that stretches all the way from the tidal basin in Washington, D.C. to the mountains of western Maryland.

As advertised, the race is easy largely because it’s virtually all flat the entire way. Don’t let the elevation profile on the course map page fool you — the course rises some 70 feet between the starting line and the half-way turnaround point, but the rise is so gradual over the course of those 6.55 miles that it’s likely you’ll barely notice it.

Runners start the race at Fletchers Cove, an inlet on the river that lies just off the Potomac Palisades Parkway and Canal Road. From there, the race heads onto the C&O Canal trail, which runners will follow northwest as it curves along the river.

They’ll run all the way to the half-way turnaround just past Interstate 495 near the Clara Barton Parkway, and then retrace their steps all the way back to Fletchers Cove for the race finish.

The half marathon makes this out-and-back stretch once, while runners in the full marathon will run it twice to complete their 26.2 miles. Organizers say the course is flat, shaded, tree-lined and scenic, and you’ll be running through a piece of early American history as you run along the trail.

You’ll have 6 hours to complete your run, and the race is open to a total of 350 entrants. The course for both races is USATF-certified.

Race Weather & Climate

Nestled along the winding Potomac River that separates Maryland and Virginia, Washington, D.C. typically sees its mildest (and rainiest) weather of the year in May, which has brought record temperatures here as low as 33 degrees (in 1906) and as high as 99 degrees (in 1991). On spring race day (May 4), the average low is 53ºF and the average high is 72ºF.

Past Results

Course Map

See the race route map for the Potomac River Run Half Marathon here.

Starting Time

  • 8:00 AM – full marathon
  • 9:00 AM – half marathon


  • $60 – $100


To reserve your spot in the 2024 spring running of the Potomac River Run Marathon or Half Marathon, register online at Active.com here.

Official Race Website

safetyandhealthfoundation.org (Spring Race), safeandhealtfoundation.org (Fall Race)


Ever run in the Potomac River Run? Share your impressions here, or post your review in the Comments below.

See more races in: May, Washington D.C.

5 comments… add one
  • Vladas Lelešius March 26, 2022, 9:10 am

    Dear sir or madam, I am planning to participate in you Washington DC marathon on May 1st. I am from Lithuania, an active military officer, but it is a pity that all tickets are sold out. Is it possible somehow to find an opportunity to participate in this event? Tank you very much in advance.

  • Luke Sarantos March 14, 2022, 11:14 am

    I was hopping to sign up for the Potomac Marathon in an attempt to qualify for the Boston Marathon. I waited to sign up until I far enough into my training and it is now sold out. I am confidant in my training and think I could run a 2:55:00. I was wounding if there is a waitlist in the event someone withdrawals.

    Luke Sarantos

  • Jude April 2, 2019, 5:10 pm

    Hello I was wondering if the day of the race i cant run due to personal challenges can i defer ? And what’s the latest date i can defer

  • Bill Sciannella March 18, 2019, 7:57 pm

    I have a question for the 2019 marathon on May 5. I am a blind marathon runner and would like to do this marathon. I have a running guide to run with me. Does my guide have to pay and register? She is not interested in the medal or t-shirt, but just is running as my guide. Please email me and tell me your policy.

  • Rodica Ursu May 3, 2016, 3:23 am


    Are results still not posted or am I not looking at the right spot?

    I did the last race 1st of May and my understanding was that they would be posted that evening. Thanks


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