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If you need to get somewhere in Fredericksburg on race day, leave early.
Date published: 5/16/2012
BY JIM HALL
The traffic patterns in use throughout Fredericksburg on Sunday morning for the 5th annual Marine Corps Historic Half race will be the same as in past years.
Officials have been advising those traveling to destinations along the race route to be aware of road closures and runners.
"Plan extra time," said James Swisher, vice president for project management and continuous improvement at Mary Washington Hospital.
The 13.1-mile course reaches nearly every corner of the city, from Central Park to downtown, through the hospital property and back to the start-finish line at the Fredericksburg Expo and Conference Center.
At some point during the race, more than two dozen city roads will be closed, most for an hour or more. Some of the road closings begin at 5 a.m.
Numerous churches line the route, including St. Mary Catholic Church on William Street, First Christian Church on Washington Avenue, and St. George's Episcopal Church and the Presbyterian Church of Fredericksburg on Princess Anne Street.
Worshipers will have to dodge rolling road closings, such as the 7:25 to 9:25 a.m. closing on Princess Anne Street.
"Be sure to allow more time for parking further away from the church than usual," St. George's website advises.
At Mary Washington Hospital, one of the exits will be closed, left turns will be prohibited at some intersections, and thousands of runners will be strung across the property from one end to the other.
"The biggest times of impact are 6:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.," Swisher said.
Runners will enter the hospital campus from U.S. 1, just after the 10-mile mark, travel behind the hospital and exit onto Cowan Boulevard.
That means they'll again have to tackle Hospital Hill, the mile-long climb adjacent to the emergency department.
In its recent newsletter to runners, Marine Corps officials warned them about Hospital Hill, saying, "No two words strike more fear or inspire greater determination in the hearts of Historic Half runners everywhere."
Patients, visitors and staff will find that the hospital entrances at Cowan Boulevard and U.S. 1 are open, though traffic will not be allowed to exit onto Cowan Boulevard.
The traffic pattern at the hospital is the same one in use for several years.
"We feel like it's a good plan," Swisher said. "We've gotten to be old hat at it."
One new wrinkle this year is the connector road between the hospital and Eagle Village. That street will be open during the race as an entrance and an exit.
"We'll be monitoring usage on the connector this year," Swisher said. "We're thinking of it as an extra relief valve for traffic."
The hospital has been a part of the half-marathon since its start in 2008. Many staff members run in the half, the relay and 5K races, and others volunteer at the aid stations.
"It creates some challenges for us, but we've figured out how to overcome them," Swisher said. "We like being a part of it."
Jim Hall: 540/374-5433
A free race day shuttle will be available for participants and spectators. The buses will operate from 5 a.m. to 1 p.m. this Sunday. The buses will travel back and forth between the U.S. 17 commuter lot in southern Stafford County and the Walmart