The 6.2-mile run is an out-and-back course that runs along the Potomac River along M Street, in the heart of Georgetown. The route takes runners right by Georgetown University, to the Georgetown Reservoir, then back to the finish/start line at K Street. This is a USATF-certified event, which means it has been verified for accuracy by USA Track & Field, the National Governing Body for long-distance running and race walking in the United States. Events must be certified in order to have any of the performances eligible for records or to be nationally ranked.
According to the race website, the route is very scenic and relatively flat, both features that contribute to its popularity. It has become a target event for running enthusiasts who want to take advantage of the even terrain to try and beat their personal-best 10K times.
There is also a Fun Walk for participants who don't feel like covering the entire race distance. The walk begins at K Street and takes Rock Creek Parkway to the Lincoln Memorial and back.
Starting with the 2010 event, the race implemented start waves. Runners who expect to finish in less than 50 minutes, or about eight minutes per mile, make up wave No. 1. Runners who expect to take longer than 50 minutes to finish start in wave No. 2, and the walkers start in wave No. 3. Having participants start in waves accomplishes two objectives: First, reducing the congestion on the course creates makes for a safer event. Second, a staggered start makes the race much more enjoyable for the runners and walkers by allowing them to run with similarly paced athletes. Faster runners can concentrate on their performance rather than weaving around slower people, and slower runners don't have to worry about getting crowded by speedsters trying to pass.