Liberty 5K Run/Walk scheduled for July 3

Early registration for event is strongly encouraged

MORRIS – After a year of having events canceled because of COVID-19, the Morris Downtown Development Partnership was more than happy to announce Tuesday that the Liberty 5K Run/Walk is set to resume this year at 6 p.m. July 3.

The event, which has taken place every year – including a virtual run in 2020 – for the past 11 years, traditionally brings about 500 runners, said Julie Applegate, executive director of the Morris Downtown Development Partnership.

“The first year, we had just over 100 runners,” Applegate said. “The biggest number we have had is 578, but we usually have right around that 500 mark.

“It has become a pretty popular event, not only for the people running but for people to come out and cheer for those that are running.”

The Liberty 5K is a chip-timed run on a certified course that takes runners through Nostalgic Downtown Morris and area parks and neighborhoods, according to the event page on the Morris Downtown Development Partnership website. The route is completely paved and is primarily flat, with slight hills. Modifications have been made to offer an in-person, safe and socially distanced run that can easily transition into a traditional run should mitigations allow.

“We did a virtual run last year,” Applegate said. “But that is just not the same. We have some modifications in place. We will start in five-minute waves, and there won’t be an awards ceremony. But if circumstances change and we are able to do more, we will add what we can to get the event back to as close to normal as we can.”

Age divisions for the race will be 14 and younger, 15 to 19, 20 to 24, 25 to 29, 30 to 34, 34 to 39, 40 to 44, 45 to 49, 50 to 54, 55 to 59, 60 to 64, 65 to 69, 70 to 74 and 75 and older.

The Liberty 5K supports and honors local military personnel. It also involves military personnel in the event, contributing to its success. The Liberty 5K gives special awards to military personnel and offers a master’s division, cash awards for the top finishers and giveaways for all participants.

New features for 2021 include cash prizes to the top three male and top three female finishers, as well as cash prizes to the three running clubs with the most participants. First place is $750, second place is $500 and third place is $300.

All awards will be mailed to recipients following the run unless mitigations allow for an awards ceremony. Awards will be given to:

• Overall top three male and female

• Overall top three male and female military

• Overall top three male and female masters (40 and older)

• Top three males and females of each age division

Overall winners will not be eligible for age division medals.

Results will be posted on liberty5k.run.

“We encourage the runners to wear patriotic clothing,” Applegate said. “We are going to try to make an effort to be able to have people cheering people on the race route. We have had some people get real creative in how they cheer on the runners.”

Runners must bring their own own food and water. Runners also must adhere to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Illinois Department of Public Health social distancing guidelines before, during and after the race and at packet pickup. Masks are required at all times. Participants may remove their masks once on the course, but participants must put their masks back on when crossing the finish line, according to the event page.

Early registration is open for only $25 through May 31, according to the event page. Those 14 and younger who register early may register for only $18. The cost for registration goes up to $30 in June, and participants must register before June 7 to be guaranteed a T-shirt. The week before the race, the registration fee will be $40, and registering on the day of the race will cost $50.

To register, visit www.liberty5k.run. For information about the Liberty 5K Run/Walk or to sponsor or volunteer, call 815-941-0245.

Rob Oesterle

Rob has been a sports writer for the Morris Herald-News and Joliet Herald-News for more than 20 years. He is currently also writing news for the Morris Herald-News.