It's a charity race with a back story like none other: bloodthirsty demons have been working in your community's offices, living in its homes, attending its schools. And now they're on the hunt and people are running for their lives. Citizens might be booking it across a field, seemingly far from the chaos, when shapes emerge on the horizon dressed head-to-toe in vampires' telltale black clothes. If you're a citizen, be prepared to run. If you're a vampire?lock in your target.
That's just part of what you might experience on the Vampire 5K, a twilight fun run where participants can register as "citizens" or "vampires" and take off from two separate starting lines. Both camps eventually converge in a chase that finds vamps trying to convert their mortal counterparts to the dark side. Citizens, dressed in white, sport two garlic flags; if the flags are taken before runners cross their finish line, they switch to a black tee and chase citizens. After the race, a moonlit party finds both camps sipping bloody marys during a dance party and award presentation. The race benefits the Mission to Hear Foundation, which provides hearing aids to underprivileged children, adults, and whatever they're calling the age group that comes in between these days.
The Adventure Park at Sandy Spring's 13 courses are color-coded by difficulty level, from yellow for beginners to double black diamonds for experts. They aren't ski trails, though?they're climbing challenges. More than 150 platforms adorn 5 acres of trees, which participants trek among by way of cable, wood, and rope bridges, as well as ziplines. A short safety briefing precedes all excursions, covering how to use the included gear and harnesses.
The park's main courses aren't the only place to test climbing skills. Over in the Monkey Grove, visitors can scale 10 trees fastened with the footholds and grips of a classic rock wall. Younger climbers, meanwhile, can explore The Labyrinth, a small, contained structure featuring more than 40 junior-sized versions of the park's other challenges. The courses illuminate on select Glow-in-the-Park evenings, when food, live music, and hoot-owl choruses await climbers upon their return to terra firma.
High-energy beats from artists such as Flo Rida, B.o.B., and the Black Eyed Peas bounce forth from the spinning studio at Rock Creek Sports Club, where nationally certified trainers lead stationary cyclists through challenging routes. In addition to these pop-powered workouts, the studio hosts more than 50 other fitness classes, an array of options that prompted the editors of Bethesda Magazine to name the studio 2012’s Best Neighborhood Gym. Zumba classes encourage students to boogie away calories to latin beats, and boxing clinics incorporate one-on-one attention from Golden Glove winner Russell Davis. The team of trainers can also coach visitors through the weight-loss process, or helm small group workout sessions capped at eight participants. The gym also welcomes independent workouts, with equipment such as treadmills, benches, and weights awaiting a few breathless reps of their own.
At DC Fencers Club (DCFC), head coach Janusz Smolenski leads a team of athletes that molds young fencers into champions. Thanks to his formidable pedagogy, he has trained U.S. national champions. Working with Coach Smolenski, a trio of coaches brings unique backgrounds and styles to the classes. Robert Suchorski was a Polish National Junior Champion and has trained under top Polish and Russian fencing masters, and Ilya Lobanenkov to his credit owns multiple top-eight finishes in Veteran Women's U.S. Nationals, multiple "A" ratings, and a top-16 finish in a U.S. Junior Men's epee circuit event.
The DCFC facility, which has produced two full-scholarship Notre Dame fencers, boasts 10 full-size electric strips on a sprung-wood floor where fencers can lunge, parry, and riposte for hours on end without incurring injury.
Originally built in 1938 by noted movie-palace architect John Eberson, the AFI Silver Theatre's vintage hall transports viewers back to the heyday of the silver screen. In the fully restored main auditorium, curling lines decorate the wood-colored ceiling and glowing wings unfurl from the screen, echoing its art deco origins and comforting penguins who, also, will never fly. Two new, stadium-style theaters triple the number of possible screenings, and each auditorium comes tricked out with projectors that can handle everything from 16 mm to 70 mm film as well as the latest digital video.
At Montgomery Royal Theater, six screens beam larger-than-life stars into the eyes of moviegoers during showings of recently released flicks and Hollywood blockbusters. Viewers can sink into the theater's plush, cushioned seats to absorb action-packed reels that showcase the twists of budding romance or the dire consequences of resurrecting an extinct flower’s DNA. The theater’s concession stand outfits viewers with buckets of popcorn and cups brimming with soda, providing the appropriate rations to accompany treks into the fantastical worlds of first-run films.