MoCo young runners prepare for the 5k. Photo credits: Juliane Kilcoyne

As the fastest boys finished the Let Me Run 5K race at Carderock Recreation Area on Saturday morning, they didn’t collapse in pools of sweat and satisfaction, they looped back to support their slower peers. For this group of elementary schoolers, it’s not about who goes the fastest; it’s about perseverance and tenacity.

“They’re delighted to run with their teams and celebrate each other and meet those goals that they set for their season,” said Juliane Kilcoyne, Interim Executive Director of Let Me Run. “It’s not about the fastest boy, it’s about who shows the most character development.”

Eighty boys, all in third to fifth grades and spread over six teams, practiced for seven weeks leading up to the race. At the 5K, each team honored one boy in their group with the Let Me Run Boy award, recognizing the boy who embodies all the values the program promotes, like respect, positive competition, showing affection and building friendships and connections with others.

“Let Me Run is excellent overall, and I’m glad there’s such a program for boys; they can learn to express their emotions and feel comfortable diving into them,” said coach Phil D’ Agnese, an elementary school counselor from Olney who received the “Regional Coach of the Year” award for his work. “All the skills that they learned throughout the season are something that I always love to see. Most importantly, how they’re strengthening their skills of perseverance,” said D’ Agnese, who’s also a Paraeducator at Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS).

Other elementary schools included Bradley Hills and Wyngate in Bethesda, and Flora M. Singer, Harmony Hills, Stonegate and Oakland Terrace in Silver Spring.  A total of approximately 150 runners and 200 other community members came out to support the program on Saturday, according Kilcoyne.