This fall, joining the internationally renowned Marine Corps Marathon will be the inaugural Montgomery County Marathon, a 26.2-mile race designed to showcase the county's park system.

Brian Tresp, race director for the new event, announced yesterday that the marathon will take place Sunday, Nov. 5, two weeks after the 25th Marine Corps Marathon on Oct. 22.

The predominantly flat course will start at the Shady Grove Metro station in Rockville and enter the park system at Lake Needwood. More than 20 miles of the race will be on county bike paths and trails through Rockville, Garrett Park, Kensington and Chevy Chase before ending on Woodmont Avenue in Bethesda.

Drawing a contrast with the Marine Corps Marathon, Tresp said: "We're hoping to be more of a race than an event. I think we'll appeal to a more serious kind of runner." A prize purse of $4,400, with $250 for first place, will be available.

Registration opens April 1, is $30 and will be limited to 1,000 runners.

As has been the case in recent years with the Marine Corps Marathon, and the trend with marathons nationally, the new race likely will fill quickly.

"Unfortunately, I believe we'll close within six weeks," Tresp said. "Part of the original impetus was to provide an alternative for those runners who wanted to run a fall marathon but hadn't made up their minds about it six months in advance [and prior to registration closing]."

The race is sponsored jointly by the Montgomery County Parks Foundation and the Montgomery County Road Runners Club. More information is available at www.marathonintheparks.com.