Gaithersburg, MD

Gaithersburg runs 5K under the lights at Seneca Creek State Park

Heather Jauquet

Annual family fun run returns

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Winter Lights SignHeather Jauquet/Author

The annual family-friendly Run Under the Lights 5K returned to Seneca Creek State Park after taking a year hiatus for the pandemic. The yearly race is so popular that mere hours after opening for registrations, it closes again until the following year. So if you miss it, you have to wait until next year and get your fast fingers ready to fill out the online registration. 

People come out in droves to get a unique view of the winter lights at Seneca Creek State Park. The race is one of the few times people can get a close-up view of the festive light displays through the park before the displays open to the public.

This year the registration was limited to 750 participants. Strollers are allowed for this popular race, but little ones need to stay in the stroller throughout the race and don't need to pay for registation. 

In years past, after the race, runners get a chance to gather under tents enjoying chili, hot cocoa, and cookies while chatting with other racers and waiting for their results. Admittedly, the cookies are a big draw for my children as they look forward to this race every year.  

However, this year, racers were greeted with an ornament and a goodie bag after they crossed the finish line to make the event as pandemic friendly as possible. Racers were encouraged to stay in their cars until called to the starting line, and they were encouraged to leave the racecourse after returning their race chips and receiving their goodies at the finish line. 

Despite these modifications to the annual festivities, racers were happy to once again return to the park. You could hear their excitement as they took selfies in front of the displays. People came out decked out in lights and holiday-themed racing outfits. There are plenty of opportunities to take pictures and selfies along the race route. Those who were not looking for a personal record took advantage of getting up close and personal to the displays to get their selfies.

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Runners going under the tunnel of lightsHeather Jauquet/Author

Volunteers cheerfully guided cars into the park, encouraged runners as they directed them on the course, and welcomed them at the finish line. As I passed each course monitor and thanked them for being out there, each one responded that it was a beautiful night for a run. I think they were as happy as we were to be back out on the course.

As always, the Montgomery County Road Runners Club (MCRRC) put out another well-organized family fun event. Our thanks to the team who put the event together, allowing us to take another step forward with this much anticipated Montgomery County opening tradition for the holiday season.

Winter LightsMCRRCMontgomery CountySeneca State ParkFamily Fun Run

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Certified educator K-12 and Reading Specialist with a focus on the adolescent brain. I write about how how educational decisions affect parents, students, and staff. As an educator and parent I also focus on community events for the whole family.

MD
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