Race report with a twist: Morgan Hill Freedom 5000

Happy July 4th Everyone!

Independence Day is really special in Morgan Hill. The town goes all out from a patriotic concert and street dance on the 3rd, to a fun run, pancake breakfast, parade, festival and more on the 4th. It is a wonderful, traditional, red, white and blue American celebration.

My husband was in fact a bit emotive by the sweetness of it all. About 30 minutes into our hometown parade he simply and quietly said, “I love this town.”

As a member of our lovely town — and specifically as an active member of the running part of our lovely town — I signed up to volunteer for the IDI (that’s Independence Day, Inc.) Morgan Hill Freedom 5000 fun run. I must admit that I have never volunteered at a run. However, as a runner I am well aware that without volunteers there would be no races. So I am making it a point to do my part.

My role in the run was to do ’same day 1 mile registration’, followed by ’same day 5k registration’, followed by ‘post-run food duty’. The ‘1 miler’ was for 11-year olds and younger so I met a ton of kids. All the parents and children were really nice and seemed excited to be there. The long-time race organizers, Lesley and Charles Miles, gave each child runner a red, white and blue bracelet (a la ‘Livestrong’), which by the reaction of the kids was a great idea!

The whole atmosphere was fun and festive. Both courses were simple runs through some neighborhoods. Nothing fancy and I think it worked well. The post-race food included local fresh strawberries from Watsonville, a unique treat, and a pancake breakfast.

The sheer number and quality of the awards made this run worth anyone’s effort. So much opportunity to walk away with a medal around your neck. The kids were grouped by year, so 3, 4, 5, 6, … 11 all had their own category in which multiple winners were named. The grown-ups were basically split by decade, with multiple opportunities to win per decade. Winners were everywhere! And the medals were nice, too. In fact, when I saw them at the volunteer meeting earlier in the week I had brief second thoughts about not running 😉

A shout out to all the volunteers. It is a small group of folks putting on this event. Many do it year after year. Some are runners and some are not. They are all working their best to put on a smooth, well organized, enjoyable, fun run. I think they pulled it off. It was just a nice race all around.

The parade begins when the race is wrapping up, so I was easily able to walk about a mile to meet my husband and three kids — who want to run the race next year — sit down on the sidewalk, and enjoy the show.

Before I sign off, a few tips for first-time volunteers. Know the location of the start and finish line. (I laugh typing that realizing how silly it sounds.) Know the location of the port-o-potties. Know the exact start times of all the races. Be helpful and friendly.

I will absolutely do it again next year and whether you run or volunteer, I encourage you to join us. It was a wonderful way to start what turned into a wonderful day.

Happy Birthday, America

p.s. race participants – if you saw the blonde gal walking through the crowds giving away Driscoll’s strawberries, that was me. It was nice to meet you.

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