Dismal Swamp Half Marathon

Dismal Swamp Stomp Running Festival - April 2021

Every Spring, the natural beauty of the Chesapeake region is celebrated during the Dismal Swamp Stomp, a half-marathon and 5K through the striking scenery of the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge. The active lifestyle event gives runners a chance to experience a slice of the swamp’s 112,000 acres of forests and wetlands up close and personal.

Biodiversity Meets Biomechanics

The Dismal Swamp Stomp’s signature event is a 13.1-mile, half-marathon that takes runners on a flat, paved, out-and-back track down the Great Dismal Swamp Canal Trail. This quiet and calming course, where racers can focus on breathing and pace, is routed through protected woodlands that house an abundance of wildlife and rare native tree species like cypress and white cedar.
Average daily temperatures in April in the Chesapeake region are between 48 and 67 degrees, making it an ideal time for runners, but it’s also when bird migration through the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge is peaking. It’s this ideal combination of a resplendent setting and “ready, set, go” that makes the half-marathon one of the most unique races in the country.
Knowledgeable runners have picked up on this and past fields have attracted entrants from more than 25 U.S. states and Canada. The Dismal Swamp Stomp is sanctioned by USA Track & Field (USATF) and chip-timed, but early registration is a must. Due to the course’s pristine and secluded setting, participation in the race is limited to the first 2,500 entrants.

Everyone Can Run

While the half-marathon has been held since 2006, the Great Dismal Swamp Stomp has grown over the years to include a 5K walk/run and a half-mile Cub Run for children 12 and under. All three of these out-and-back races start and finish at the same spot on the Great Dismal Swamp Canal Trail, making it easy for friends and families of different ages and abilities to participate. 

Since running strollers are also welcome and parents can complete the Cub Run with their kids, no member of the family need be left out, and the post-race festivities offer fun for all ages—including a children’s activity area, food and beer vendors, and a live entertainment stage.
A major part of that entertainment is the ceremony honoring all the entrants and presenting trophies and awards to top finishers. The top-three male and female half-marathon finishers in each of 13 different age categories receive the Dismal Swamp Stomp’s signature carved heron trophy and the overall top-five male and female athletes, based on age-graded results, receive cash prizes. Top finishers in the 5K also receive trophies, while all entrants receive a race T-shirt and all finishers receive a race medal, including an embossed bear cub medal for children who complete the Cub Run.
While the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge is a year-round wonder, the Dismal Swamp Stomp only comes around every April. Don’t miss an opportunity to take in Chesapeake’s natural beauty during its most unique annual event.