I first heard about Freedom Calling 5K when I was researching it for a Run Oregon article. When I read about the charity Freedom Calling, I was immediately struck by the seriousness of the issue of sex trafficking in Oregon and throughout the U.S. Freedom Calling is an organization focused on bringing awareness to these issues via education. I decided that I had to support this cause.
Even though this was a first year event, it had the feeling of a larger, well-organized event from the moment I drove into Cook Park. Parking attendants were in place and directing racers to the right location. The check-in tent was easily located and I got my race packet in no time at all. I had plenty of time to get my bib on, use the restroom, warm up, use the restroom again. . . you know the drill! The race packet included a tech race t-shirt and a water bottle. This 5K was chip-timed by Uberthons, so the start/finish area was clearly marked with banners, etc. This first year event had planned race day well.
When we lined up at the start line, it was clear that the turn out was small (less than 100 participants,) but that didn’t dampen the enthusiasm.
This race was sponsored by Portland First Church of the Nazarene, and the charity seems to have ties to several Nazarene churches in the area. So, when the live music from the Hillsboro Church of the Nazarene began before the race started, it felt a bit like I was being allowed to run in church. As the countdown began for race time, the band began a song with the lyrics, “I am free to run. . .” An appropriate send off.
The race course meandered throughout Cook Park on paved trails and I could hear the band playing in the distance for most of the 5K. There were plenty of helpful volunteers on the course to keep us all going the right direction. One of the volunteers near the finish was particularly enthusiastic, cheering on each individual as if she knew all of us personally. She made me smile. As I ran into the finish area, the band was still playing and volunteers were ready for the finishers with water in hand.
Snacks were available for finishers and a local chiropractor’s office was set up offering 10 minute chair massages. I took a little time at the Freedom Calling booth to find out more about the charity. It is an organization that is only about 1 year old. They have resources for teens and families to bring awareness to the issue of sex trafficking and to help prevent teens from being sucked into that world. A great start for hopefully helping decrease this problem in the future.
Although this event was small, I would encourage you to check it out next year. It is well-organized and it supports a cause that is important for keeping our youth safe. I hope this race will continue to grow in years to come.