The experience of living in Kentlands or Lakelands is idyllic. So much of what the designers of these new urbanist communities envisioned when they created the neighborhoods is visible on a daily basis: families pushing babies in strollers, people walking to Market Square to get coffee and stopping into the farmers market on the weekend for fresh fruit and vegetables. As lovely as all of this is, there is something extra special about the Kentlands/Lakelands 5K.
The Saturday of Labor Day weekend in our neighborhood is never sleepy. The energy is palpable even before the sun rises, as volunteers put the finishing touches on the annual event. Vendors arrive early to set up their booths, volunteers start to take their places along the route, and the traditional balloon arch gets hoisted above the finish line.
Strolling over to Market Square on the morning of Aug. 31, you see something similar on every block: a parent or two emerging from the front door or garage with children in tow, both wearing race bibs. Families are all hurrying down the street on the way to this fantastic, family-friendly event.
As in years past, younger children were able to run in either the 200m Tot Trot or the 500m Kids Dash. Year after year, the sight of moms and dads running alongside their little ones in these races is a happy sight. The bigger kids blasted off from the starting line, determined to be faster than the year before. Even the heat and humidity of late August didn’t dampen the determination of the youngest runners.
Dustin Campion, coach of the City of Gaithersburg’s Ready, Set, Run program that prepared 18 athletes ages 6 to 14 to run in this summer’s 5K, was particularly pleased with the outcome of the event. “I am completely amazed at how well all of the kids did yesterday at the race. Everyone came and participated, and everyone ran very well.” He added that there were “probably about twice as many runners as the previous year. Some of the kids grouped up and ran in groups and some of them raced their own race. It was a lot of fun.”
Campion hopes that many of the participants of the smaller races will pursue running as a hobby or sport. “The Gaithersburg cross country running program starts next week, too, and hopefully a lot of these kids will join that as well.”
More than 850 runners and walkers participated in the 5K race, which took place after the Tot Trot and Kids Run. Nicolas Crouzier of Darnestown won the race with a time of 15:47 and a pace of 5:05. Jen Dietz of Fairfax, Virginia, won the women’s division with a time of 19:04 and a pace of 6:09.
Even after the fastest entrants crossed the finish line, fans continued to line the roads cheering on the runners, ringing cowbells and showing off homemade signs. The energy near the end of the route seemed to spur on runners for the final sprint toward the finish line. Crowds went crazy when two runners alternated positions as they got closer to finishing the race.
After the race, runners replenished lost potassium with fresh bananas and celebrated a race well run with a slice of Potomac Pizza. Many local vendors, sponsors of the 26th annual event, were present for the post-race celebration that also included music, food and games for kids.
Labor Day weekend represents the last hurrah of summer. Parents are busy getting their kids ready to return to school, and many students spend the weekend desperately trying to crank out the last of their summer assignments. As busy as the final days before school starting can often be, our neighbors and local guests always turn out in force for the Kentlands/Lakelands 5K.