Where: Chester, W.Va., top of the northern panhandle

When: July 4

Course description: Asphalt roads throughout town, not quite an out and back, as you don’t repeat the first mile. Little to no hills.

Number of participants: about 350

Cost: $15 on race day

Bling: race shirts in either red or blue

The Chester Freedom Run 5k shirts.

The start of the 2016 Chester Freedom Run 5k.
Description: This is a well organized race. It went smoothly and the course was clearly marked with green arrows spray painted on the roads and red arrows on the telephone poles. It goes through a lot of Chester, giving you a good view of the town that is home to the World’s Biggest Teapot.

The Mountain Kids pose in front of the World’s Biggest Teapot in Chester, WV.

The course itself is mostly flat. The race draw participants from the Pittsburgh, Pa., area as well as throughout the Northern panhandle of West Virginia and nearby counties in Ohio. It’s a fast race by the virtue of its participants. They are some fast people.

Part of the crowd.

The crowds: The course is dotted with spectators on both sides of the road, with a lot near the start. The race is part of the town’s Independence Day celebration so many people are milling about town. They are very supportive.

As one participant put it, “I feel like I’m part of the parade.”

Mountain Kid 3, without prompting, gave out high-fives to participants. He was well received and had a blast.

Our imprompto high-five station.

After all the race: Each participant receives water. There are no after race snacks. It’s a $15 race, so it’s pretty low key. They have age group awards in the runner and walker categories, with each age group being about 5 years. They also give an award for the most patriotic and for the fastest stroller runner.

I personally think this guy below should have won most patriotic, but he turns the award down each year he participates.

A member of the U.S. Army participated in the race with a full ruck.

Personal experience: This was the last race of our three day 5k extravaganza. To be honest, I didn’t want to go. I had my own run planned and I was just burned out of the travel.

But I’m glad I went.

 The kids and I had a blast looking around Chester. We also cheered on Mountain Papa and the other racers. We got to meet some people from Pittsburgh and reaffirm our bonds with runners we see on a regular basis.

I recommend this race. It ran really smoothly and the awards were presented in a timely manner. It was a competitive race where you’ll never run alone. There always will be someone your pace or a little faster or slower to compete against.