More a community event than a race

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By The Staff

I’m pretty sure I was the very last runner to cross the finish line at the Fourth of July Freedom Run four years back. How do I know? Well, it was a 5K race, and the clock showed one hour as I rolled in. Not a good sign.

Oh, sure, I had excuses — one was a 3-year-old named Johnny and the other was an 18-month-old known as “Crash.” Let’s face it, though: Even under the best of circumstances, I’m not exactly setting any speed records.

But none of that matters, because the Freedom Run is one of our community’s truly great annual events. And no matter how long it takes, you’ll always have a good time

It’s a tradition. Every year there’s the panic of getting to the starting line on time. After about 14 Freedom Runs, I’ve learned exactly where runners become walkers — right at the lakes just before the first mile marker. The first hills soon follow, and watching the high school track teams extend their lead is always a humbling experience.

At the midway point, you’ll be treated to paper cups of water and, if you’re lucky, the patriotic sounds of the Before The Rain Band. If you’ve never heard the combination of drums, a Fender Telecaster and bagpipes, you’re missing out.

Just past that, Greg Dobbs and Pete Jacobsen can often be seen at the second mile marker calling out times. After that comes a seemingly endless — and painful — hill that finally becomes a gentle downhill slope to the Nick’s Pro Fitness parking lot. There you can have a bagel and catch up with friends — all for the benefit of a terrific local cause, the Mount Evans Hospice.

For years, popular culture has conspired to obliterate the ties of community. MTV and CNN have so homogenized us that regional idiosyncrasies are flattening out, from the Deep South to Alaska. Commuter suburbs make it possible to live in the same house for 25 years without ever getting to know your next-door neighbor.

But every year on the Fourth of July, we come together to have a little fun, see our neighbors and enjoy the beauty of this place. That’s worth celebrating.

See you there!

Rob Witwer is the state representative for House District 25, which encompasses the Evergreen area and most of western Jefferson County.