2019 9-11 Memorial 5K Run (Courtesy of Jose Quiroz)

The Arlington 9-11 Memorial 5K will once again be in-person after going virtual last year.

This will be the 20th anniversary of the race, which is run in honor of the Arlington first responders who helped at the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001, and in support of 9/11-related charities.

The race is organized by members of Arlington’s public safety agencies, including the police department and sheriff’s office.

The event is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 11 and around 3,000 people are expected to participate this year, Race Director and Sheriff’s Office Lieutenant Jose Quiroz tells ARLnow. That’s in line with previous years.

Over the last two decades, the event has raised about $800,000 for charity. This includes HEROS, which helps local families whose loved ones have died in the line of duty, as well as the Pentagon Memorial Fund, which is still looking to build a new visitor center for the memorial.

The website doesn’t specifically exactly where the funds will be going this year but does note that “all proceeds will be donated to official charities that focus on the healing of military personnel and civilians directly affected by the war on terrorism and the attacks against America on September 11, 2001.”

The race will start at the Doubletree Hotel in Pentagon City, follow Army Navy Drive, passing the Pentagon Memorial, making its way along Washington Blvd, before hitting Route 110, and circling back to the hotel.

ACPD Officer Harley Guenther, who is is on the 9/11 Memorial Race Board and part of the outreach team, says the event has deep meaning to her. When the airplane hit the Pentagon two decades ago, both her mother and father worked for ACPD and were among the first on scene.

At the time, she was only six years old and was sent to live with relatives for several weeks while her parents aided in rescue efforts and evidence recovery at the Pentagon.

For her, this race is about them.

“Mom and dad were my heroes growing up. When disaster struck, they went to help,” says Guenther.

She isn’t much of a runner, she says, but she makes it a point to jog past the Pentagon Memorial.

“You can’t help but be affected. It’s an introspective time. You just run with your thoughts.” says Guenther.

Certain protocols could still be in place come September, the website notes, including capacity restrictions, social distancing, and masks. This could mean staggered start times and impact the post-race festival. All of this is currently being evaluated, Quiroz says.

There’s a virtual option for those not yet feeling comfortable with running in the race in person.

Every person who registers will receive a long sleeve commemorative t-shirt.

It’s important to hold the race in-person this year, Quiroz says, because there are still so many in the community who were significantly impacted on that day. For Quiroz, 9/11 was actually his second day on the job with the Arlington County Sheriff’s Office.

“We need to always honor those that responded that day,” he said. “It’s sacred and this event helps to remind the new generation.”

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