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An anonymous Russian has taken over the 9/11 Memorial 5K website, leading to a drop in registrations

(Updated at noon) An anonymous Russian buyer has taken the website for Arlington’s annual 9/11 Memorial 5K hostage, undermining registration for this year’s race.

When the domain name lapsed, this buyer took over the page, translated it into Russian and demanded a large sum of money from the race committee to return it, Race Director Joshua Milfeit told ARLnow.

Instead of paying, the committee decided to abandon the old “.com” web domain and buy a new “.us” domain of the same name, said Milfeit, who is also a captain with the Arlington County Fire Department.

The 5K is hosted yearly by the Arlington County police and fire departments, sheriff’s office and the Emergency Communications Center. So far, some 200 runners are registered, compared to around 1,000 sign-ups typically seen by the end of June, Milfeit said.

“We’re all fire and police, none of us are professionals at this type of thing. Now our registration is super low for this year because people can’t find us on our new website,” Milfeit said.

The original Arlington 9/11 Memorial 5K website was taken over and translated into Russian

In light of this year’s confusion, the early-bird registration deadline has been extended through the month of July. Those who register before then will pay $40 per person for a spot in the race, plus a race shirt, a bib and a finisher’s medal, Milfeit said.

There is an option when registering to sign up as an individual or in a team, with all children under the age of 12 getting a $10 discount applied at checkout.

All proceeds made from registration sign ups will be donated to the Bouldercrest Retreat, a mental health facility for military and first responders.

“We cut them a $50,000 check last year,” Milfeit said.

Jose Quiroz organized the race until becoming Acting Sheriff, after former Sheriff Beth Arthur announced her early retirement. Milfeit volunteered to take on the position of race director when Quiroz had to focus on his campaign to be the next permanent Sheriff. He prevailed in last week’s Democratic primary.

Milfeit says the 5K is an important tradition for him and his colleagues.

“Fire service is all about tradition and this is one of the true traditions Arlington police, fire and 911 communication center members can all do together,” Milfeit said.

The race will begin at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 9 at the DoubleTree Hotel (300 Army Navy Drive) in Pentagon City. The course loops around the Pentagon and runners cross the finish line near where they started.

Donated post-race snacks and water will be available at the finish line. A post-race party will feature a DJ, a beer truck pouring free drinks and food trucks with food for sale.

For those who can’t attend the race, a donation page has been set up to help the event reach its $25,000 goal. There is also an option to register as a virtual runner, a feature that came about after the 2020 race was made completely virtual due to Covid-19.

In the last two decades, the 9/11 Memorial 5K has donated close to $1 million to 9/11-related charities, including the Pentagon Memorial Fund, Project Enduring Pride and the National Police Suicide Foundation.

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