The trail is slated to be developed into the light-rail Purple Line running between Bethesda and New Carrollton, but the Friends of the Capital Crescent Trail, which organized Saturday morning’s race, are working hard to raise money and awareness to stop the Purple Line from being built—and thereby stop the destruction of 20 acres of shaded trail that would need to be cleared to make way for the Purple Line.
The trail follows an abandoned CSX Corp. railroad bed, and has been in use as a trail since the 1990s. Many locals enjoy using the trail for getting in some exercise and fresh air.
“We always run on the trail,” said Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School cross-country runners Elena Crouch and Emily Hardgrove, who competed in the race. Their high school is just a few blocks away.
Runner Meg Moga participated in the race to “support the cause,” as did Ben Calloway, who travelled from Fairfax, Va., to Chevy Chase for the race.
Like many others at Saturday’s event, Calloway would prefer that an alternative to the Purple Line—such as a bus system—be initiated instead of cutting down the trees to build a rail line.
But many runners arrived at the starting line with little knowledge of the rail-trail issue. They came for the race, but left as trail supporters, said Ajay Bhatt, president of the Friends of the Capital Crescent Trail.
Over 400 runners registered for the race—about 100 more than last year’s inaugural Save the Trail 5K, Bhatt said.
Some of the runners were senior citizens, while some were only 6 years old. The littlest participants rode in strollers pushed by their running parents. Groups of friends and neighbors ran together, using the race as a chance to socialize as well as exercise for a cause.
And Elm Street Park took on a neighborly block-party feel, with music, face painting, free cupcakes from Fancy Cakes by Leslie and Georgetown Cupcake, free fruit, free massages and a sign-making workshop where runners’ friends and family could make signs to cheer them on at the finish line.
“Today’s great turnout sends a clear message that we love this trail,” Bhatt said at the concluding ceremony.
Prizes were awarded to the top three male and female runners, and about 20 prizes were raffled off. Each runner was automatically entered in the raffle. Popular prizes included free running shoes from the Chevy Chase Running Company (a branch of the Georgetown Running Company).
The fastest men in the race were Andrew Dumm, 26, of Arlington (14 minutes, 39 seconds), Joe Wiegner, 29 (15 minutes, 9 seconds), and Kumsa Ethicha, 27 (16 minutes, 10 seconds).
The fastest women were Laurel MacMillan, 21, of Blacksburg (18 minutes, 36 seconds), Natalie Atabek, 19, of Bethesda (19 minutes, 13 seconds), and Liz Martinez, 30, of Washington (20 minutes).
The full list of runners and their times is posted on the website of the Friends of the Capital Crescent Trail.