Having mentally prepared for a familiar loop course taking us down Officers Row, through Fort Vancouver, and over the Land Bridge, I was a little surprised to hear that the route had been changed to a simple out-and-back along the waterfront path. Though probably a flatter and faster course (and easier for the volunteers to manage), I still sadly missed the loop, and I always find long stretches on straight paths mentally tougher.
Standing eagerly at attention next to me at the start was some friends’ 7-year-old son, ready to begin his second 5k, all his own idea. He took off like a shot, and finished in an amazing 29 minutes, the first finisher under 10.
I felt good at the start and settled into a solid pace as we headed downhill toward the river, then joined the path for the long haul beside the Columbia. Running without turns makes distances seem to stretch out forever, so it took awhile for the first mile marker to arrive, and another eternity before we reached the turnaround near Beaches Restaurant.
A lead cyclist kept us on course, though it would have been hard to get lost! On the way back, I began to fade a little, but the nice thing about out-and-back courses is the support you get from the other runners. I recognized a lot of encouraging voices, including Jessica’s, and another friend appeared in her car, driving along beside me and cheering me on. Despite her best urging, I wasn’t able to gain ground on the leader, but I kept pushing as best I could, and made my way back to the finish in a decent time.
I cheered other runners in, grabbed some of the bountiful snacks, and found a bench to relax on and catch my breath. I don’t know if it was logistics, an attempt to support the Brewfest, or just a quirk of the timetable, but the awards weren’t until noon, which makes for a full morning for a 5k. Luckily, two kids’ runs were scheduled in the interim, providing a lot of inspiration and entertainment. The race director’s 1.5 year old daughter even ran the short course and made it all the way in great form!
The last-minute course change was a surprise and a bit of a disappointment, but overall the 2016 Freedom 5K was a fun way to kick off the Vancouver USA weekend.
Jessica: I’ve participate in the Vancouver USA Half Marathon 4 times in the past, and always had an epic experience. This was my first year participating in the Freedom 5K, and not participating in the half marathon. Joe did the double – I settled for one.
I arrived about 9 a.m. to collect my bib and shirt. New this year, the race expo did not take place on Friday, as it has in past years. Also, the expo was blocked off with fencing, with only one entrance and one exit that I was able to locate. After entering, I located the packet pick-up for all events. The 5K and marathon lines both fed into one pick-up area, which proved a tad nerve-wracking for late arrivers to collect their 5K bib. I did not have to go to another location for the Freedom 5K event shirt, as it was handed out with bib pick-up. The expo area was packed full of excellent vendors and races to check out.
About 10 minutes prior to the 10 a.m. start, Bart Yasso called runners to the chute area for the National Anthem and pre-race instructions. It was at this time that we found out the course had been changed. Joe eluded to that above, so I won’t go into detail – but it caught many of us by surprise, and I was personally disappointed in the course change.
The volunteers were great along the course, cheering participants along. There was even an opportunity to get aid at the aid station twice – once on the way towards Beaches along the Columbia River paths, and again on the way back to the finish line. This was certainly a nice treat and much appreciated!
Thinking I had not placed in my age group, I decided not to stick around until the 12-noon awards ceremony. Joe did and collected his beautiful award for coming in first place in the male master’s category. After the race, when I found out I came in 3rd in my age group (yippee)! I wondered about how I could potentially collect my age group medal. Later, I found out, in contrast to what the website stated, only first place finishers in each age group received medals.
I was glad I drove up from Eugene to participate in the Freedom 5K event – but, the two items that made me disappointed was the last minute course change, and changing the age group award medals from what the website stated.
The energy at the finish line was great, thanks to the wonderful Bart Yasso calling out finishers, and also due to the Summer Brewfest, race expo, and Vancouver Farmer’s Market all taking place at Esther Short Park.
(Editor’s Note: Run Oregon has reached out to Energy Events to see if there were unforeseen circumstances that led to some of the changes. We will update this post if communication occurs!)