In most ways the Oct. 15 Discover Long Branch 5K Race was just like last year’s: the same smiling faces; the same community spirit; even the same winner — Ross Anderson.
But there was also a difference: this year’s race was seriously professional.
The route was scientifically marked to measure exactly five kilometers. Participants wore electronic chips on their snazzy race bibs so that the timers from the Race Wire company could measure — to a fraction of a second – exactly how quickly each racer ran (or, as the case may be, how fast they walked).
The proceeds from this year’s race will be dedicated to supporting children’s arts education in Long Branch.
Going ‘professional’ had several benefits for the nearly 80 participating runners and walkers. Those who started the race further back in the pack – or who got a late start — had an equal chance to come in first, because their timing started only after crossing the start line.
So professional runners can now take the Discover Long Branch 5K seriously.
But even those just out to have fun appreciated all the new bells and whistles. “The race was so well organized!” was a frequently heard comment from participants, along with: “Can’t wait ‘til next year!”
The race route proceeds along the Long Branch trail just south of Piney Branch Rd, and from there to Houston Avenue and Sligo Creek Parkway before retracing its steps.
The Discover Long Branch 5K was begun in 2016, in the wake of the deadly apartment explosion. After that, the Long Branch Business League, led by John Angel (El Gavilan restaurant) created the 5K Walk/Run to create awareness and support the displaced families.
This year’s race again benefited from a great deal of logistical assistance from Amee Bearne of CHEER, plus support from Montgomery Housing Partnership.
Montgomery County, Montgomery Parks, the City of Takoma Park, the Takoma Park Police and Public Works Departments, all once again provided generous and cheerful support.
Volunteers from the Seventh Day Adventist Church (Silver Spring) and Northwood H.S. came out in force — at 6:30 a.m. on a Sunday morning – to stand guard at intersections, hand out water to runners, and guide folks on their way during the race.