If it’s the morning of July 4th, you know where to find me: the City of Beaverton library, which has been the location of the Freedomthon for many years, and where I’ve run this 5K race for the past four years now. It’s a fun event that offers a variety of entertainment beyond the run itself: a bounce house for kids, a pie-eating contest, and more.
At 8:25 a.m. on Independence Day, it was bright and sunny and 61 degrees. After checking in and picking up race bibs, I saw fellow Uberthons Ambassador Margo Glass, who introduced me to the second eldest male participant in the race, her 79-year-old dad. The eldest? That would be my 80-year-old dad. How cool is that that they’re both still so active?
It felt cool in the starting area, but I knew it would feel warmer once we got going. My older son lined up with me somewhere about a third of the way from the starting line, just ahead of where race director Darwin Rasmussen pronounced that the crowd was starting to get “good-looking.” (This is an inside joke – Uberthons’ unofficial motto is that the fast people are in front and the good-looking people are in back.)
Just before 8:30, Darwin gave us the “go,” and we took off in one big wave. I didn’t worry too much about the mass of people ahead of me; I just picked my way opportunistically, but not as frenetically as I usually did in that kind of situation. It actually ended up helping me in a way – in 5K races, my first mile split has usually been 6:30 or better, but that’s generally not a sustainable pace for me, so my second and third miles have been much worse. On this day, my first mile clocked in at 6:45.
A little past the 1 mile marker was the 90 degree right turn on to SW Western Avenue. Just half a mile to the turnaround, I thought to myself. About halfway to the turnaround (i.e., with a 1/4 mile left), I crossed ways with the race leaders on the other side of the road. There was a group of three in front (including Run Oregon blogger Brian Bernier), and a fourth right behind. I started counting runners ahead of me, and got to 30 when I hit the turnaround.
For the next mile or so, I started trading places with a 12-year-old youngster, so I was (roughly) #30 or #31 in the race. That’s probably one of the reasons that my second mile split was pretty close to the first mile – 6:55.
With one mile to go, I reached the “1 Mile Challenge” timing station. A week or so earlier, race director/chief timer Alan Rasmussen came up with the idea of adding a separate last mile time to help motivate participants in the last stage of the race. Uberthons’ timer Moe Renfro was captaining this station. I wanted to wave and say “hi,” but I was pressing to keep up with the 12-year-old….
With 1/4 mile or less to go, I could hear/sense David Hume catching up to me. He’s a frequent Uberthons participant, and he’s in my age group (M45-49), so I’m well aware of his capabilities. The 12-year-old had gone ahead of me, and I didn’t have enough in the tank to match his pace, but I was motivated enough to try to stay ahead of Hume. After grabbing the flag from the volunteer at the side of the road, I had a little more than 1/10 of a mile left in the race. As I started to kick, Hume was also speeding up. That in turn spurred me to rev up even more; according to the data from the Garmin website, I peaked at a pace of 4:42 min/mile at the end. I managed to cross the finish line just ahead of him. (Thanks to chip timing, I actually finished a few seconds faster, but of course it’s hard to know that in the moment. I also edged the 12-year-old on time.)
According to my watch, my third mile clocked in at 6:50, so I had run fairly even splits all race, something I have not managed to do in a 5K … ever. My 1 mile challenge time (meaning from 2.1 to 3.1 miles in the race) was 6:46, which makes sense because I was near-sprinting at the end.
I relaxed for a bit, figuring that I had a couple of more minutes before I had to get into position to cheer my older son to the end and to take some pictures. And then I realized with shock that he was almost done. I hurried over but I was too late; he had already crossed the line. He had smashed his PR by over 2 minutes!
My older son and I waited for the next member of our family, which was my dad, who finished just under 35 minutes.* Later on, my friend and fellow Uberthons Ambassador Margo Glass told me, “There’s nothing as motivating as knowing there’s an 80 year old man running ahead of you.” (To be fair, Margo had two kids in the race and, being a better parent than I am, was running at their pace, not hers.)
* Just out of curiosity, I plugged my dad’s time into the Runner’s World age grading calculator. For an 80-year-old male, his time is the equivalent of running 21:52 at peak age (~25 years old).
Later, my wife and younger son crossed the finish line, having caught lots of Pokemon along the way. Once we were reunited, we got in line for the post-race breakfast of pancakes and sausages. All participants were given up to three sausage links and four pancakes. Toppings included three types of fruit syrup, maple syrup, and regular or non-dairy whipped cream.
Three sausage links and two pancakes were plenty of food for me, as I’m not a big breakfast eater and I tend to have not much appetite right after running. But what if you were still rungry….? Well, the pie-eating contest was getting started, and there were still a few pies looking for eaters. Race director/pie contest judge Darwin even tried to draft me into participating, but I demurred.*
* I have my food weaknesses, but pies aren’t really one of them. Maybe one year Uberthons will have a Tatertotathon….
I did, however, come over with my older son to watch the contest. In case you are wondering, these were full size pies:
Participants included last year’s winner (Andy Cox), Ross Crowley’s son, and several others. Here’s an exclusive video of how it went:
Ha ha ha! Okay, not really. For one thing, the participants were allowed to use their hands. And no one barfed. There were a lot of sticky fingers and bits of pie in loose strands of hair and messy faces, though. Last year’s champion Cox had an interesting technique: he picked up the entire pie and folded the aluminum plate into a taco-like shape, allowing him to eat the pie more directly.
However, in a shocking upset, Cox was still eating when not one but two participants – Larry(?), and Cody Aardvark finished in a tie!
Just as there are no ties in baseball (except in the All Star Game), there can’t be a tie in a pie-eating contest. Darwin handed out two mini-pies (the size to be used in the kids’ pie-eating contest later), and while the remaining contestants were still working on their full-size pies, Larry and Cody went to work. You wouldn’t have thought that they had each consumed a full pie already! I think it took Larry only four gigantic bites to finish that mini-pie, just ahead of Cody.
And with that, I called it a morning, heading home with a nice assortment of Uberthons race bling:
This was a really fun event. The race course is flat, wide, and fast (although for some strange reason, I seem to run faster in the Halloweenathon on the far twistier course at The Reserve), and the post-race food and setting make it seem like a giant picnic party. The inflatable bounce house offers something for younger kids to do, and the pie-eating contest is a great addition to the event. I’m hard pressed to think of a better way to start Independence Day celebrations than to participant in the Freedomthon.
Results: Click here for full results. 402 runners and 26 walkers finished the 5K. Participants ranged in age from 4 to 83. Special shout out to Dylan and Kevin Paulk, who finished as the #1 overall runner and the #1 master’s runner, respectively.
Photos: Click here for hundreds of pictures from the 2017 Freedomthon.
More Uberthons: The next Uberthons race is the Summer Marathon/Half Marathon/Quarter Marathon on July 23 (previewed here).