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Clifton Caboose Run is May 31

All aboard for the Clifton Caboose Twilight Run. This sixth annual 5K run and 1-mile fun run/walk is set for Saturday, May 31, rain or shine, in the Town of Clifton.

The fun run/walk starts at 6:30 p.m., and the 5K kicks off at 6:50 p.m. The scenic course begins and ends at the triangle at Clifton and Newman roads and, along the way, winds down a gently rolling country road, crosses a creek and may even pass a horse or two.

Entry fees are $20 for the 5K and $15 for the 1-mile. On-line registration is at www.signmeup.com and will be accepted until May 27 at midnight. More information and applications are available at www.CliftonVa.org and by calling 703-968-0740.

Some 600 people total participated in last year's 5K and fun run and, so far, said event organizer Bill Hummel, 250 have already signed up for this go-'round. "I think we'll probably have more this year, because signups are running ahead of what we had last year at this time," he said. "We feel real good about that."

The 2002 Clifton Caboose race netted approximately $11,000, and Hummel is hopeful that even more will be raised in 2003's event. Proceeds benefit charitable organizations.

This year's recipients will be Food for Others, a Fairfax-based food bank; Rainbow House, a Haitian orphanage for children with AIDS; and the Clifton Betterment Association (CBA), dedicated to the preservation of historic Clifton — one of the few remaining landmarks of turn-of-the-century, town living in Northern Virginia.

"The money makes a big difference, especially in these tougher economic times," said Hummel. "We have enough sponsors to pay for the runners, so pretty much everything we get in registration goes directly to the charities. That's why every runner helps us to raise more."

During the race, local Boy Scouts will help read off the runners' times and hand out water. Afterward, in the town park, Girl Scouts will help pass out fruit, cheese and bread to the runners, and the Clifton Store will offer its famous, 2-foot Popsicles to children who participated in the event.

Families are invited to bring their own picnic dinners and enjoy the awards ceremony and live music. Prizes will be given to the overall male and female winners and to the top finishers in various age groups. A special prize will also be awarded to the last-place, or caboose, finisher. Providing the entertainment will be a local band called the Juke Jumpers, who'll perform '70s rock and roll.

The Clifton Caboose run is sponsored by the CBA and various local businesses. For sponsorship information, e-mail julie.guy@verizon.net or dmweese@msn.com. Hummel and his event co-organizers, Dan Kelliher and Laura Harrington — who originally began this fund-raiser — had their first meeting in January and have been getting together, every three or four weeks since then, to get things ready for the big day.

All pre-registered runners will receive commemorative T-shirts during their race-package pick-up. (A limited number of shirts will be available to late registrants). Featuring runners chasing a caboose on a circular railroad track, this year's shirts were designed by Kelliher's son Danny, a design student at Longwood College.

Early packet pick-up is Friday, May 30, from 5-7 p.m., at the old town hall, across from the fire station on Chapel Road. Last chance to sign up for the race and pick up packets will be on race day, at the Clifton Town Meeting Hall, 12641 Chapel Road, from 4:15-6 p.m. Parking for the race will be available at Clifton Elementary and, weather permitting, in the flood plain just outside town.

"It's a great event because it's something the whole family can do by walking in the 1-mile," said Hummel. "And there aren't very many events with parties in the park afterward."