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Laurel’s anniversary 5K race salvaged, goes virtual amid coronavirus pandemic

It was supposed to be a year of celebration as the city of Laurel marked its 150th anniversary. A series of 36 tied-in events were scheduled throughout the year, including a birthday gala, special talks, bike parades and more. All came to a halt in March with the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As a member of the Laurel 150th anniversary celebration committee, Jackie Jones was excited to announce that the city of Laurel 150th Anniversary 5K, originally scheduled to be run in April, has been rescheduled for Sept. 5 and will be held virtually.

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“I’m just tickled we can still do one of the 150th events,” Jones said. “Being part of the anniversary committee, I know how many times we met and how hard we worked. To have most of the calendar wiped away ... I’m proud to do this.”

The 5K will also be run in conjunction with another 5K that Jones has organized for the past seven years in September — the Emancipation 5K hosted by St. Mark’s United Methodist Church. Combined, the two 5Ks are now called Laurel’s 150th Anniversary Emancipation Day Virtual 5K. The event will benefit Laurel’s Diabetes Awareness Initiative and diabetes research.

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“We had hoped to have it live,” Jones said, coordinator of the 5K. “We went from Plan A to Plan B to Plan C. The bottom line is both will still benefit diabetes.”

Traditionally, a certified 5K through the city of Laurel is done in one day. For the virtual 5K, participants have from Sept. 5 to Sept. 12 to submit their times, which is optional. Blue Cheetah Sports Timing is the 5K’s official race manager.

“You can walk it or run it anywhere you desire,” Jones said. “On your treadmill, through your neighborhood, in a park.”

The Emancipation 5K usually attracts runners from all over, Jones said, as they try to improve their times on a certified course to enter other races.

“Before the pandemic struck, we had over 100 people signed up for the April 4 5K,” Jones said. “It would have probably been huge. As of this week, we have over 130. Let’s hope we have 150.”

All participants will receive a Laurel 150th commemorative running bib and a Laurel 150th anniversary finisher medal. Registration is $25. For more information, contact the city of Laurel Parks and Recreation at 301-725-7800 or parks@laurel.md.us.

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