On the years I decide not to run a marathon, fall is my favorite time of year. All of my important races have passed. I have either met my goals and feel strong, or I have missed my goals and need a kick in the butt.
Either way, every weekend from late September to after New Year’s Day, there is a 5K race somewhere in Maryland — a chance to challenge myself.
Unfortunately I am going to miss one of the best 5Ks of the season this year, right here in College Park.
This weekend, those runners looking to put their training to the test, to get that ever elusive 5K personal record (PR), can run the College Park Cares 5K for an all but guaranteed fast time.
The race, a USA Track and Field-certified 5K, is flat and shady, and with the cooler temperatures set to hang around until the weekend, runners will be handed the perfect day to set some PRs.
For runners who train throughout the year for multiple races, a course like the one on the Paint Branch Trail is all the bait we need. But the race directors have taken this 5K above and beyond the ordinary.
The race is held in conjunction with the National Capital Area Health and Fitness Day and will include health screenings for those who are interested.
Younger siblings can get in on the fun when the day starts with a kids’ run. To add to the competition and fun of the 5K, race directors have created a family/team category. Bring your whole family with you to get in on the competition. The main 5K event will start 15 minutes after the start of the kids’ run.
For those who want to enjoy the course and the fun but would like to leave the sweating to others, there is a 2.4K walk starting just after the runners head out on the 5K course.
With post-race food and entertainment that include a moon bounce, face painting and music, participants are encouraged to stick around, celebrate their new PRs, show off their awards and meet new neighbors and friends.
Date: Saturday, Sept. 24
Time: Registration begins at 7 a.m.; kids' run 8:15 a.m.; 8:30 a.m. 5K; 8:45 a.m. 2.4K walk; 9:30 a.m. awards.
Where: Ellen E. Linson Swimming Pool, 5211 Paint Branch Parkway.
Proceeds benefit several local charities including Dimensions Healthcare System.