The Freedom Run 5k is part of Oakboro’s annual week-long 4th of July celebration. Oakboro is a small town in rural Stanly County with a population of about 1200 residents. We had never been there before and were surprised that it didn’t seem nearly as small as it sounds, apparently because being in a rural area without a lot of towns it brings in quite a few visitors from outlying communities. Albemarle is up the road about 15 miles away, and we were happy to find out that Peter Asciutto of Vac & Dash was doing the timing for the race (although the race was actually managed by the local fire department).
As described on the Active.com race page, the course was “pretty flat,” with just a few little hills along the way. It was hot as usual for any race this time of year, but much of the course was along the trails of the Oakboro District Park and provided some much needed shade. I heard a few complaints from runners who didn’t like running along the crushed gravel pathway, and it’s not my favorite surface either since I’m used to running on asphalt mostly all of the time, but other than a little feeling of mushiness under my feet it didn’t bother me much. I was much more concerned about getting my nearly new “Karhu Racer” racing flats dirty with the dust I was kicking up! I’m happy to report my shoes remained relatively unscathed throughout.
I was happy to finish sixth overall in the race with a time of 21:37, which was 16 seconds slower than I ran last week’s Summer Breeze 5k but I actually felt better in this race, although I did take about a 20-second walk break in the third mile.
There was one problem along the course that affected some runners. It was a loop that was to be done two times. The first time around you were supposed to go to the right to repeat the loop; the second time you went to the left to exit the loop. It wasn’t a problem for me as I was lapping some slower runners and there were some going right and others going left just ahead of me. There was a volunteer there but they weren’t really directing the runners. I yelled as I approached, “Go left second time around?” and the volunteer nodded that was correct. It would have been much better to have a volunteer there who would keep telling people which way to go. I was in the top 10 runners at the time and I saw at least one person ahead of me skip the second loop, most likely not on purpose but of course things like that affect the outcome. When Linda came along everybody was going to the left and she did too (she wasn’t even sure where it was) and she finished about 5 or 6 minutes faster than she should have. We did report it so they could adjust her time or do whatever was appropriate, but I’m pretty sure it was a fairly widespread problem for other runners as well.
The race shirts were “ringer” T-shirts, which was kind of cool, and in 93 races it’s the first time I remember getting a ringer. There wasn’t any food at all, which was kind of disappointing, but volunteers met the runners at the finish line with a cold bottle of water (I heard there was Gatorade too) and a cold, wet hand towel that said, “Vac & Dash Racing Team — Freedom Run 5k Finisher.” That’s the first time we’ve gotten towels like that at the finish line and they were great for cooling off and a nice souvenir of the race as well.
When the Oakboro race was mentioned on Facebook the other day somebody responded that they didn’t know anything about the race but the Wayside Diner was a great place to eat, so after the race Linda and I stopped by there with Steve Austin and Jerry Sofley and had breakfast. Wow… best gravy on earth! I had a gravy biscuit, 2 eggs, 2 pieces of sausage, and 1 giant hotcake. Lucky for me I don’t live closer to this place, but I’ll try working it off during my Sunday long run.
8 – 1-10 Website (Information, results, registration, photo links, etc.) 7 – 1-10 Awards (Quality of medals, trophies, etc.) (1 to 10) 8 – 1-10 Awards Presentation (PA system, winning times, etc.) (1 to 10) 3 – 1-10 Food for Race Participants (1 to 10) 7 – 1-10 T-Shirts (1 to 10 with 5 being average) 4 – 4/6 Part of Race Series (Grand Prix, etc.) (6=Yes and 4=No) 0 – 0/5 Professional Photography (5=Yes and 0=No) 4 – 4/6 Chip Timing (6=Yes and 4=No) 7 – 3/7 Certified Course (by USA Track & Field) (7=Yes and 3=No) 7 – 1-10 Course (1 to 10 with 5 being average) 8 – 1-10 Parking (1 to 10 with 5 being average) 5 – 1-10 Entertainment (1 to 10 with 5 being average) 0 – 0-10 Age Groups (10 if 5-year groups; 0 if 10-year groups) 0 – 0/5 Indoor Shelter from Elements (0 if none; 5 if provided) 7 – 1-10 Bathroom Facilities 5 – 0-10 Other (Added 5 for the post-race towels!)
TOTAL – 80
Time: 21:37 Pace: 6:58 Age Group: (55-99) 1 of 7 Overall: 6 of 100