The Freedom 5k
On the Monday morning of The Salvation Army’s annual week of camp meetings in Old Orchard Beach, Maine, as many as 200 people will dress in running shorts, sneakers, ball caps, and with numbers pinned to their T–shirts. In front of the local high school, they’ll commence the Army’s annual Freedom 5K Run/Walk.
The Freedom 5K began with four Salvation Army officers: Major Eunice Champlain, Major Evan Hickman, Major Beth Foster, and Lt. Colonel Kathleen Steele. They would wake up before camp meetings and Bible studies to run together through the town.
Other Salvationists who lived in the community, as well as Salvationists visiting for the summer, also made time to run between pier festivities and corps meetings. The officers recognized this trend as an opportunity to start a new ministry. They could raise awareness to help survivors of human trafficking, a cause important to each of them. The officers found sponsors in their respective Army divisions and invited others to join them.
In August of 2014, they held the first official Freedom 5K Run. They equally distributed the funds raised among the divisions to support various anti–human trafficking ministries.
Two years later, the Freedom 5K Run organizers pledged to donate all the money raised to the Well, the Salvation Army’s center for human trafficking survivors at the Portland (Citadel), Maine, Corps. At that time, Major Annette Lock, secretary for program for the Salvation Army’s Northern New England Division, was the corps officer in Portland. Every year since then, she continues to volunteer at the Freedom 5K.
“Even with the limitations of hosting a race on Monday morning, the Freedom 5K still welcomes around 200 runners every summer,” says Major Lock. “The Salvation Army promotes the 5K locally, around the Eastern Territory, to corps, and to families who plan on attending the Old Orchard Beach Camp Meetings. We also reach out to other anti–human trafficking organizations, as well as to local running clubs.
“The Well runs on a small operating budget, so the Freedom 5K is an integral part of its funding,” says Lock. “It helps pay for everything from gift cards, to clothing for women who need it, to lodging for victims who are working with law enforcement.
“The women who come to the Well are ones who you would meet in any community. They have aspirations for education, employment, and families of their own,” says Lock. “But they have also suffered horrible circumstances as victims of human trafficking. The Well is a support system that will listen and help them go through the maze of services that allows them to move on from their past.”
When the Freedom 5K participants complete their run this summer, they will all know that they have helped survivors of human trafficking put the pieces of their lives back together.
by Hugo Bravo
Tips for running your first 5K
- If you’re training, decrease your running mileage as the 5K approaches. Training close to the big day is about storing up rest so your legs are ready for race day. Rather than long practice runs days before the race, do two or three short runs (with occasional quick sprints) to prepare you for the tempo of a race.
- Get two or three nights of good sleep before the race. It’s normal to have pre–race nerves that may keep you up the night before the race, so beat the jitters to the punch by sleeping well early in the week.
- Have a simple breakfast on the morning of the race. Oatmeal and dry fruit, a sports bar, or a bagel with peanut butter are high–energy, easily digestible options. Feel free to include coffee if it’s part of your morning routine. Also, try to eat at least 90 minutes before you run, and stay hydrated, even if it’s not a particularly hot day.
- Keep a steady pace while running. New racers make the mistake of giving their best effort in the first mile, making their bodies work too hard too soon and fizzling out early. Instead, start conservatively, building your effort throughout the run, and finish stronger than you started.
- Having a short mantra for your run can help maintain focus. It can be only a few words, such as “I can do this,” or “On to the finish line.” You can also look to the Bible for inspirational verses on your run, such as 2 Timothy 4:7 (I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith) or Philippians 4:13 (I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me).