Few races grant their namesake prize to the last-place finisher, but the upcoming Clifton Caboose 5K and One-Mile Fun Run is one of those exceptions. This will mark the 10th year that the coveted Caboose prize has been bestowed, although it has not yet been decided exactly what the prize will be. Many other prizes will be distributed to early finishers, as well.
The run, set for the evening of Saturday, June 9, is a fund raiser for the Clifton Betterment Association (CBA). The 5K will begin at about 6:20 p.m. at the intersection of Clifton Road, Main Street and Newman Road, and the course winds through the countryside outside town and back to its start. The One-Mile Fun Run begins at 6 p.m. and follows the same course, although for a shorter distance. Both races are open to all ages.
CBA President Michelle Stein said some 40 medals will be distributed to top runners in the various age groups. Prizes will include gift certificates for local businesses. Stein said the event draws anywhere from 400 to 700 runners each year, between the two runs.
She said she hopes to raise $6,000 to $7,000 through the event. Last year's proceeds were spent on playground equipment for the town's Children's Park, and Stein said this year's earnings will likely be spent on another park. A walking trail, including three bridges, is planned for a proposed park on about half a dozen acres of land near the intersection where the race begins and ends.
After the race, participants are invited to bring picnic dinners to the town park, where there will be snacks, an awards ceremony and live music from the local Colin Thompson Band, said Stein.
Gary Anderson, who chairs the race, noted that at least two of the metropolitan area's top runners — Ryan Mammen of Woodbridge and Eric Post of Centreville — have already registered for the race. Both have run in years past, and Mammen has taken first place for the last three years running. "One thing I've tried to do is make it more of a runner's race," said Anderson, who is in his third year chairing the event. He noted that the top three 5K runners of each gender now win small monetary prizes, between $25 and $75.
Anderson added that he thought the pleasant scenery and the fact that the race is in the evening give it an unusual appeal. "And the party in the park afterward makes it a lot of fun, too."
Post said in an e-mail that he and Mammen and a few other former James Madison University track runners have made the race a yearly tradition. "It's a fun little race," said Post. He cited the scenery and small-town feel of Clifton, as well as the appeal of the picnic. "The music and festivities afterward, the kids running around in the park — it's just a lot of fun."
"The atmosphere of the race is what is unique and what keeps me coming back each year," wrote Mammen in an e-mail, noting the friendly atmosphere, the picnic and the novelty of an evening race. "I look forward to this race more than any other throughout the year, because it's always a fun time," he said.