Three-hundred and forty-eight participants hit the streets of downtown Morris on Wednesday, July 3rd for the fourth annual Liberty 5K Run/Walk.
Although the 5K began at 7:30 a.m., participants began arriving as early as 5 a.m. for race day registration or to check out the National Guard’s ASV, the Freedom 1 Fire Truck, and the Patriots 4 Heroes tent where they could send messages to military personnel.
“The Liberty run draws new people to Morris because of its uniqueness,” said race organizer Tasha Bunting of the Grundy Country Farm Bureau. “The fly over by the Morris Experimental Aircraft Association is certainly one of the highlights of the night, as well as the Legion Riders stationed throughout the course.
“I’ve also heard from runners that appreciate the Marine recruits running to help keep them motivated.”
Following two kids runs, Mayor Dick Kopczick welcomed runners to downtown Morris and Samantha Costello sang the National Anthem. As the runners prepared to begin the race, six planes flew in formation above the runners. Local Marines stood on the sidelines as the race began and then cut in with participants while singing cadence.
As runners and walkers approached the finish line in front of Ebbey’s, they were cheered by crowds of friends and family members. But runners were actually encouraged throughout the race. Cheerleaders from Spirit Cheerleading waved American flags and cheered participants as they ran through Goold Park, members of Peace Chapel cheered on runners while providing them with water and locals cheered as participants ran by their homes. The Liberty 5K would not be possible without sponsors and numerous volunteers.
“The Liberty 5K has grown to include many organizations and volunteers throughout the community,” Bunting said. “We greatly appreciate their support and assistance during the kids races, the 5K route, and help with the registration areas.”
Ebbey George’s provided free burgers and hot dogs for all runners as they waited for the awards ceremony.
For the second consecutive year, Kyle Dockemeyer was the first to cross the finish line with a time of 17:03, while James Bowen followed behind with a time of 17:37. Greg Poland was third male to finish with a time of 17:59.
Top female finishers were Jessica Hopkins with a time of 19:31, Coral Berta at 21:11 and Amy Abrew at 21:33.
Beautiful American eagle trophies were awarded to the top male and female military finishers – Javier Martinez with a time of 19:06, Robert Jungwirth at 21:27 and female finisher Leticia Espinosa with a time of 25:04.
A full list of race results can be found at www.grundycfb.com/liberty-5k-runwalk.html and www.downtownmorris.com/liberty-5k-runwalk/
Julie Applegate, race organizer from the Morris Downtown Development Partnership would like to encourage runners to compete in other races in Morris as well.
The Liberty 5K Run/Walk is one of six runs included on the Run 4 Morris circuit. Runners who participate in the Liberty 5K and three of 5 other Morris 5Ks in the circuit will receive a Run 4 Morris sweatshirt and be entered into drawings for additional prizes.
The Liberty 5K was organized by the Morris Downtown Development Partnership and the Grundy County Farm Bureau Foundation to support area military and veterans groups.