The Takoma Park Safe Routes to School 5K has returned for 2021, albeit virtually, according to a statement from Race Director Lucy Neher.
The race, held since 2009, traditionally occurred on the first Sunday in May. Organizers canceled the race last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
For 2021, the race has gone virtual, with participants permitted to run any route at any time, from May 15 through May 31. The race is open to runners of all ages and experience levels.
Proceeds from the event fund health, fitness, bike, and pedestrian safety activities at schools in the area, including Takoma Park Elementary, Piney Branch Elementary, East Silver Spring Elementary, Rolling Terrace Elementary, and Takoma Park Middle School.
Participants can sign up at the TKPK5K RunSignup website.
Race Director, Lucy Neher’s statement is below:
“As Race Director for the TKPK5K, I, Lucy Neher, have a confession to make. I have never actually RUN the TKPK5K, even though I have been RUNNING it for 13 years! It’s not that I can’t run a 5K; I just can’t run the TKPK5K. Making sure so many others can run the TKPK5K takes up all my time and energy. And it has been sheer joy.
“I don’t do it alone. I like to say serving on the Race Committee is the best kept PTA secret (not anymore!) because we have so much fun. Together with representatives from all 5 PTAs, the work begins in October. We plan out all the details and prepare for any eventuality, even a pandemic! We make it look easy, because that kind of work, with a congenial group of individuals all pulling their weight is so satisfying. By the time we reach our finish line we are exhausted from the joy of it all.
“From the first year when 350 smiling runners ran in the pouring rain to 2019 when 1500 runners seemed oblivious to the pouring rain and everything in between, it has been pure joy to cheer at the start and finish lines. The TKPK5K is full of stories about running and how running impacts our lives. One Spring, a former participant wrote to tell me he couldn’t run that year. He was in Florida running a marathon. He went on to say the TKPK5K had saved his life. He was going through a dark time, received an email about the TKPK5K, signed up, ran and never looked back until he crossed the finish line of his first marathon. He thanked us for saving his life. There are many joyous stories like his.
“We decided to shut down the race in 2020 and to bring it back virtually in 2021. In this time of certain uncertainty, one thing is clear, the TKPK5K is a beloved springtime rite of passage. As we watch the race roster grow this year, scrolling through the names of the many people who have signed up for the race already, we see a remarkable cross section of our community: young and old, veteran and first-time runners, and families deciding to run together in the joyful spring sunshine! We are all finding JOY again!”