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Family, Fun and Fitness at the Azalea Classic

University Park hosted its 10th annual race on Saturday.

The sky was gray, the ground was muddy and the temperature was brisk, but cheeks were rosy on the hundreds of participants in the Azalea Classic.

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Prior to the race, University Park Mayor John Tabori and guests of honor unveiled a new plaque on the clock at the elementary school marking the town's 75th anniversary.

Northwestern High School's marching band entertained the crowd before and during the races.

More than 800 people participated in the races, 461 people ran or walked in the the 5K.

The 1-mile race was pretty popular with the young runners, ages 8 through 14, some of whom, had been practicing running a mile in gym class at University Park. Aidan Trinity took first place, followed by Baxter Hamilton and James Dawson.

The Family 1K was in honor of a teacher at University Park Elementary. Alex Martin took first place followed by Hayden Dangle and Sam McGranahan.

For the 5k, the race started up the hill on Queens Chapel Road, passed the school and weaved through the neighborhood, ending behind the school on Wells Parkway.

Residents and runners' supporters lined the path of the race, cheering them on.

Brian Pendleton, 38, of Camp Springs, ran in the 5K for the third time this year.

Pendleton, who place second in his age group, said the course is "hilly" and really hard.

"It's challenging for anyone," he said, noting he often runs 5Ks and other marathons.

"I try to pace myself," he said, "telling myself 'I'm almost there, I'm almost there' when there's a half-of-a-mile left."

A co-ed club cross-country team from the University of Maryland also ran in the race together with all seven members and many of them placed in the different age categories. 

Sophomore Phil Crump said he ran the course last year.

"It's a little difficult with all the hills and turns," Crump said.

Sophomore Victor Alonso said the weather was perfect for running. Alonso said the team runs a variety of courses and lengths and says differences in the courses can sometimes affect the their times, but not by a lot.

Senior Evan Burros, who got first place in the race overall, noted that the course was beautiful. Burros' time was 18:09

He was followed by teammate Crump, who ran the course in 18:19, than University Park resident Michael Laskowski, 15, who took third place with 18:23.

Following the race, children and their families and other attendees danced to the music of DJ Lee from Smooth Groove DJs.

The town also had a cake in honor of its 75th birthday and guests got a slice of cake.

The rest of the results will be posted on the race website.

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