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A Race, Picnic, Music and Fun

Clifton Caboose Twilight 5K is May 18.

Children and adults begin the Clifton Caboose 1-mile fun run/walk.

Children and adults begin the Clifton Caboose 1-mile fun run/walk. Photo contributed

Runners don’t have to get up early to compete in the Town of Clifton’s annual 5K race. They can sleep in, enjoy their afternoon and then head to town for the 15th annual Clifton Caboose Twilight Run.

It’s Saturday, May 18, with the 1-mile fun run/walk starting at 6 p.m., and the 5K at 6:30 p.m. It’ll happen rain or shine; and in this event, not only the winners receive prizes, but the last-place, or caboose, finisher also gets an award.

The course begins near the triangle intersection of Clifton and Newman Roads and Main Street and is popular with participants because of its scenic, country atmosphere. The route goes straight out Newman Road and back again; it’s somewhat hilly and fairly challenging.

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Runners take off from the starting line of a previous Clifton Caboose 5K Twilight Run.

Last year’s event attracted 581 participants—107 in the 1-mile and 474 in the 5K—and race Chairman Gary Anderson expects at least that many this time. And that includes students, ages 8-10, in the running programs of Fairview and Willow Springs elementary schools, who’ll be in the 5K.

Registration is at www.signmeup.com/89591. Entry fees are $21 for the 5K and $15 for the 1-mile; but they increase to $24 and $18, respectively, after May 15. Race-day registration is from 4-5:30 p.m. at the barn at 7139 Main St.

Packet pick-up (cash/check only) is Friday, May 17, from 5-7 p.m., at the barn, or on race day, just prior to the event. Participants will also receive a commemorative Clifton Caboose T-shirt designed by resident Bill Ference.

THE RACE is sponsored by the Clifton Betterment Association (CBA), dedicated to improving the Town of Clifton. This year’s proceeds will go toward resurfacing and repairing the basketball court in the town park.

Parking is available at the end of Chapel Street, in the floodplain and at Clifton Elementary. Water will be provided along the course, and snacks such as fruit, cheese and rolls will be offered after the race. All children participating will receive freeze pops from The Clifton Store.

The Reston Runners Club manages the finish line and will record each runner’s time via computer. Gift certificates and medals go to the top three male and female finishers. Medals are also awarded to the top two finishers in each age group. The top two CBA-member finishers receive medals, and a caboose award goes to the person coming in last. In the fun run/walk, all finishers are given ribbons.

And the good time continues when the race is over, because everyone who attended may join the party afterward at the barn. Parents are encouraged to bring picnic suppers and beverages for children. The celebration also features music by a live band, Acoustic Burgoo, which describes its music as “soulgrass.”

This year is Anderson’s ninth as race chairman, with help from town residents Michelle Stein, Steve Bittner, Dawn Van Dyke and Lynne Strang. Also lending support are the volunteers and CBA, plus resident Fred Ansick, who helps mark the course and gets the VDOT permit for the road closure.

In January, race-committee members pick the date and get onto local race calendars so runners may find and prepare for this event. In the spring, they alert businesses and residents along Newman Road that it’ll be closed to traffic during the race.

The major sponsors are Del. Tim Hugo (R-40th) and Anthony Reid Tax & Accounting Services. Students seeking service hours may volunteer to help at the 5K at www.signupgenius.com/go/20F0C4EAEAA2C7-clifton3.

HAPPY TO RETURN as chairman, Anderson said, “It’s great to be involved with the community and I like being around the people putting it on. It’s a great event for the town. And it’s fun seeing all the kids involved and how excited they are to participate in the race. I think it’s a great activity for them and, with any luck, they’ll turn it into a permanent habit.”

Most people in the Caboose Run are from Northern Virginia; but the 2012 event also attracted people from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland and Texas. This’ll be the second time the twilight race is held in May, instead of June.

“It worked out so well last year, we decided to keep that change,” explained Anderson. “Last year’s participation from the elementary schools was up, and there’s a better likelihood of cooler weather.”