I like small races. It’s usually easy to find parking, the course isn’t packed, and typically they support a charity with a substantial percentage of the proceeds. The Freedom 5k in Molalla is one of those small races that goes off without a hitch, is fun to run, and I will look forward to participating again next year, if my schedule allows. Complete results of this year’s race can be found here, and pictures are on the Freedom 5k Facebook page.
I knew it was going to be a really hot day, and with a 9:20am start time (to fit the run just ahead of the parade that started at 10am), I was prepared for a hot run as well. I drove to Molalla to be there about one hour before the scheduled start time, which I have found to be my sweet spot of allowing enough spare time to not stress about being late. There were still plenty of spots in the Heckard Field’s parking lot; I picked up my race packet, pinned on my bib and had time to stand in line (of course) for the bathroom. I met up with fellow blogger and RunOregon founder Kelly, who was pushing her adorable four-month-old son in his first race. Bottles of ice cold water were already available and handed out readily to anybody who wanted to refill their personal cup or carry a bottle on the course.
We lined up in the start area shortly after 9am. Volunteers were holding up pace signs, which is always helpful in picking out the right spot in the crowd. Colors were presented by members of the local VFW post, and the National Anthem was sung. We were off right on time. I had run the Freedom 5k in 2013, and the only change to the course was the fact that we started out counterclockwise on the running track, completing 3/4 of a lap before exiting the stadium to the north towards the streets of downtown Molalla. This had the advantage that the field was already stretched out a bit, and at the end of the race there would be just 100m left to run on the track.
After crossing a small grassy area and a gravel parking lot, we were on the streets of Molalla. After about half a mile we got to the corner where parade participants were staging their floats and groups, and from that point on the streets were lined with spectators, cheering us on while waiting for the parade to start. The first mile went by pretty quickly, and during the second mile I really appreciated that several homeowner had had the idea to offer garden hose spray-downs to the runners. The water station at mile 1.8 was well-staffed and had plenty of water and Gatorade. Shortly after the 2mile marker, we turned to the east onto Main St, where there was no shade, and the sun was straight in my face. It would have been easy to slow down or walk, but having a running buddy next to me and spectators cheering helped me push myself all the way down Main St to the quick cut across the gravel parking lot, the flag-lined field, and the final 100m on the running track to the finish line.
Volunteers were standing by with ice cold water bottles right after crossing the line. The food tent offered oranges, cheese sticks, blueberries, and bread with optional honey or Nutella. During the race, the raffle booth had drawn the raffle winners out of all registered bib numbers. Water was available in several spots, and recycle bins were also placed throughout the finish area to collect the empty bottles. At the timing tent participants were able to get their instant race results and pick up any award they may have earned.
After we had caught our breath and had re-hydrated, we made our way back to Main St to watch the parade. It was fun watching the floats and trucks and performance groups move by, and to watch the kids run excitedly after the candy that was being tossed off the floats. The race packet also included tickets for the 1:30pm rodeo show, but I decided not to do that this year. Saving that experience for next time!