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Runners, Get Ready For the Goblin Gallop

The Goblin Gallop 5K race and 1K fun run is not only for a good cause, but it's fun to watch, too. That's because this ninth-annual race is right before Halloween, and some of the participants run in costume.

"We've had Superman, witches, a leopard and Star Trek characters," said race chairman Jack Wuerker. "Some of the costumes are terrific."

But there's a serious purpose for the event: Proceeds go to The John Quadrino Foundation to Benefit Children with Cancer. This year's Goblin Gallop is Sunday, Oct. 27, at the Fair Lakes Shopping Center, off the Fair Lakes Parkway, in Fairfax. The fun run begins at 8:30 a.m. and the 5K starts at 9 a.m.

It'll be held, rain or shine. The USATF-certified course kicks off in front of the Olive Garden restaurant and finishes in front of Jared's jewelers. The 5K entry fee is $20 if postmarked by Oct. 22; late and race-day registration is $25. Entry fee for the 1K is $15 if postmarked by Oct. 22; late and race-day registration is $20.

The first three overall male and female finishers will win gift certificates to Tysons Corner stores for $150, $100 and $50, respectively. Top age-group finishers will also receive prizes.

All fun-run participants receive a glow-in-the-dark T-shirt, a running medallion with a red, white and blue ribbon and a runner's bag. Race participants also get the T-shirt and bag. Random prizes, including Redskins tickets, will be awarded throughout the morning. Best-costume prizes will be given, and face-painting and balloon animals will be available for the children. There's a live band, plus fruit, bagels, doughnuts and beverages.

Last year's race drew more than 1,000 runners, and more are expected this time. That's good news to George Quadrino, whose foundation — named in honor of his son John who died of cancer in 1985 — benefits from the event.

Because of last year's Goblin Gallop, which raised almost $25,000 for the foundation, said Quadrino, the organization "provided financial support to more than 250 families of children with cancer and other serious childhood illnesses, in the Northern Virginia and Washington Metropolitan area."

The foundation provides financial assistance to their families and makes small grants to meet specific, non-continuing needs not met through other assistance programs. Wuerker and his wife, Effie Triarhos, started the race for a different charity, but switched after a year.

"We liked the John Quadrino Foundation because it was local and 100 percent of the money went to the people they serve," said Wuerker. "There are no administrative expenses."

The first Goblin Gallop for the foundation yielded just $5,000, so Wuerker's delighted that it's taken off so well; proceeds are now five times that amount. Sponsors also play a major role; this year's main ones are: The Shaffer Charitable Foundation, Old Navy, E-Engineering; Audio Visual Systems, The Data Center, B.J.'s Wholesale Club and Squire, Sanders & Dempsey LLP.

And Wuerker and Triarhos truly want to help the foundation. "We started the race — we'd like to see it keep on making a contribution to society," said Wuerker. "Every once in awhile, you hear of someone with a child with cancer and you get them in touch with the John Quadrino Foundation."

He did just that, about four years ago, with a 1 1/2-year-old girl with cancer. She's now in complete remission. "It was wonderful," he said. "The doctors really didn't think she'd make it, at all. The foundation was able to help her, and God supplied the miracle."

Wuerker and his small race committee begin work on the Goblin Gallop in January. The toughest part is finding people willing to contribute money, prizes, food and drink to the race. But what gives him the most satisfaction, he said, is "finding out that you've been able to make a contribution to the foundation. The race has probably more than doubled the amount that the foundation has been able to contribute [to help children with cancer]."

In addition, he said, people coming to the race hear about the foundation and often donate to it through the Combined Federal Campaign/United Way. To do so, they just have to earmark their donations to CFC/UW No. 8931.

Packet pick-up for the Goblin Gallop is Friday, Oct. 25, noon-7 p.m., and Saturday, Oct. 26, 10 a.m.-3 p.m., at Gold's Gym, 10201 Main St. in Fairfax (enter on Locust Street). Participants for both the 5K and 1K may also register at 7 a.m. on race day.

Register online at www.racepacket.com. For more information, call 703-536-2027, e-mail GoblinGallop@MWZB.com or see www.goblingallop.org.