Race preview: Fresno Freedom Run

When you think of the Fourth of July, you probably think of fireworks. With good reason, of course. But why wait until the end of the day to celebrate our nation’s birthday? If you’re an early riser, you can kick your holiday off at Fresno’s annual Fourth of July race, the Freedom Run.

Held in Woodward Park and presented by Sierra Challenge EXPRESS, the event includes a 4-mile run, a 2-mile run/walk, and the Little Firecracker races for kids 8 and under. The 2-mile course is stroller-friendly.

Participants are encouraged to dress in red, white, and blue. But the patriotism extends the the courses, as well: the 2-and 4-mile courses will be lined with about 1,000 American flags.

Race director Mike Herman and his assistant director begin planting the flags on the courses the evening before the race, and return in the early hours of the morning to finish the job.

“People love the American flag course,” Herman said. “They say they’ve never seen a course like that.”

In addition to the flags on the course, runners will be given a flag as they approach the finish chute.

Other race amenities include an American flag-themed shirt, ice cream, cold towels, and watermelon. The watermelon is local, Herman said, and picked the day before the race.

Age group awards will be given for the 2- and 4-mile races, and all kids’ race participants will receive medals. Awards will also be given for the largest group and most patriotic adult and child.

About 600 people participated in last year’s Freedom Run. This year, said Herman, “we’re going to shatter that record” with an anticipated 1,000 registrants.

The Freedom Run benefits Central Valley Honor Flight, a local nonprofit that sends war veterans to Washington, D.C. to see their memorials. “It takes about $1,500 to send a veteran to Washington, D.C.,” said Herman, “so as many donations as we can get for the cause, the better it is.”

Runners having fun at the 2016 Freedom Run

Details:

Freedom Run

Where: Woodward Park, 7775 N. Friant Rd., Fresno

When: Little Firecracker kids’ races, 7 a.m.; 4-mile run, 7:15 a.m.; 2-mile run/walk, 7:20 a.m.

Cost: $20/kids’ races, $35/2- and 4-mile races

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