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While many people relaxed or slept in during the early morning hours of the Monday holiday, hundreds of racers, fun runners and more leisurely participants gathered at Liberty High School for the Eldersburg Rogue Runners' annual Labor Day 5K and Color Run.

The Eldersburg Rogue Runners is a nonprofit organization associated with the Freedom Area Recreation Council. Pete Lester, communications coordinator and founder, said the group was established to support runners of all ages in southern Carroll. The organization sponsors races throughout the year, as well as training runs and Saturday morning group runs. The Labor Day Rogue Race is the group's largest fundraiser of the year. Lester said the organization chose Labor Day to host the event for several reasons.

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"It's the start of the school year. The idea is hopefully you've been running in the summer and are ready for a race," Lester said. "There weren't, at the time, any other races on the calendar. Now there are a couple of others, but by and large, we were the only race on Labor Day."

The money raised through the event supports the group's training programs, as well as the scholarship it awards each year. A scholarships of $500 is presented to one graduating senior from Century, South Carroll or Liberty High School. The senior must be an active member of the Rogue Runners.

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Lester said supporting community health is something that's important to him and the group.

"I think everybody's trying to be active," Lester said. "That's really the goal of the club. To encourage people of all ages to move around and to run."

Starting at the entrance of the school at 8:30 a.m., the 5K took runners along Hodges Road and Compton Lane before ending at Liberty's football stadium. Following the race, the group held a one mile color run, where participants — largely young racers running alone or with family members – were splashed with dry multi-colored paint at regular intervals. Covered head-to-toe in the rainbow colored paint, the runners crossed the inflatable arch designating the finish line and immediately headed toward the food and drink the Rogue Runners members had set out.

Lester said this year's race had one of the largest turnouts the group has ever seen, with more than 230 runners participating in the 5K, and more than 140 participants in the color run. Lester credited current president Jane Linde for growing interest in the group.

"We normally get around 300 people total. Adding the color seemed to really help turnout this year," Lester said. "I think people like coming out and having fun with their kids."

Doug Fleming, of Eldersburg, said he looks forward to attending the race with his three sons – all participants in the Rogue Runners – every year.

"It's a fun sport, and it's a family sport. We like to support these kinds of local events," Fleming said. "It's nice to come out here as a family and run together as a group."

Ross Dangel, of Eldersburg, said he's participated in the 5K for seven years, now, and enjoys that its one of the only local activities during Labor Day.

"I guess I just have nothing else to do on Labor Day weekend. I wish I had something to say about being fitness-oriented, but the truth is I just have nothing to do," Dangel said. "They used to run it in my neighborhood. This is the first time they've run it on this course."

Sarah Miller, of Taneytown, who was participating for the first time this year, said she used the race to cap her Labor Day weekend activities.

"I'm really here for my fitness goals and just to have fun," Miller said. "The only plans I had this weekend were picnics. I ate all the food yesterday, and will burn it off today."

Reach staff writer Jacob deNobel at 410-857-7890 or at jacob.denobel@carrollcountytimes.com.

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