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Viva Vets! 5K Comes to Area

Event funds scholarships for military veterans.

Viva Vets! 5K logo

Viva Vets! 5K logo Contributed

A 5K race that helps America’s military veterans further their education is coming to the local area. It’s the Viva Vets! 5K Run/Walk, and it is slated for Sunday, Sept. 29, at 8:30 a.m. at Fairfax Corner.

“It’s for the veterans,” said Vince Straub, a board member of AFCEA NOVA, hosting the event. “We want to fortify the folks who’ve served our country by helping them attend school, and this is another activity which will help us do that.”

The race begins and ends in front of Coastal Flats restaurant, and the first-place finisher overall will receive a one-night stay and dinner at the Sheraton Premiere hotel in Tysons Corner. Winners in various age-group categories will be given gift cards for merchandise.

“This race is our first annual, and we hope to get 400-500 runners,” said Race Director Dixon Hemphill, himself a veteran. “We’re also hoping that both veterans and their supporters will show up to participate and root for them.”

AFCEA stands for Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association, and NOVA is the Northern Virginia branch. Each year, the organization awards hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships to veterans.

Register for the race at www.vivavets.org. Cost is $30/person or $25 per individual on a team. Packet pick-up is Saturday, Sept. 28, from noon-3 p.m., at Potomac River Running, 11895 Grand Commons Ave., in the shopping center.

The course is USATF-certified and the race will be chip-timed. The first 300 runners will receive high-quality, moisture-wicking, commemorative T-shirts. Ice-cold water, fruit, bagels and other refreshments will be provided. The event will also feature an emcee, a deejay and the dance crew, and Ignight Dance Fitness, to warm up the participants.

“There’s easy parking, and it’s a great course,” said Hemphill. “It starts in the shopping center and goes out, with all right turns—which are easier for the runners. That’s why it’s such a popular course and why there are 25 races at Fairfax Corner this year. There are no streets to cross during the 3-mile loop, and police officers and race sentries will be stationed at critical points.”

Event proceeds will help veterans attend college and earn advanced degrees. Traditionally, though, said Straub, AFCEA NOVA veterans’ fundraising events have been one-day, IT (information technology) conferences.

“We applied the money raised from conference registration to the scholarships,” he explained. “But this year, the Board of Directors wanted to do something active, outside and different, and this 5K is a way to reach new people in the community.”