483 runners participated in this year's Fourth of July race, up 17 percent from previous year's count

PIONEER PHOTO: CONNER WILLIAMS  - Marcus David, 15,of Lake Oswego (275) and Batya Beard, 18, of Portland (358) were the first to cross the finish line for the men and women during the sixth annual Freedom 5K race.

15-year-old Marcus David didn't make the trek from Lake Oswego for an easy stroll through the streets of Molalla in the sixth annual Freedom 5K race. In fact, he said he "wanted to get a workout in," so he and his family decided to come down to Molalla to give the race a try.

The incoming sophomore at Lake Oswego High School doesn't normally do road running as he's a cross country and track-focused athlete, but that didn't stop him from taking the early lead and never giving it up as he finished the race in 17 minutes, 30 seconds – 31 seconds faster than the second place finisher, 37-year-old Jeffrey Alberghini of Beaverton.

It was David's first appearance at the Freedom 5K, and he said he had never experienced the crowd presence like he did Tuesday morning as people claimed their spots to view the annual Giant Street Parade that started after the race.

PIONEER PHOTO: CONNER WILLIAMS  - Marcus David, 15, won the sixth annual Freedom 5K race in 17 minutes, 30 seconds.

"I haven't done much road racing, so that was a really cool part for me," David said.

David said his he didn't know what to expect, but he was going to try to run a decent pace for him and take a shot at winning. He wanted to maintain about a 5:20 to 5:30, and he ended up with a final pace of 5:38, enough to take the overall win.

"I decided to go to the front because that's what felt comfortable, and it just worked out," David said.

Portland's Batya Beard, 18, is entering her sophomore year at Oregon State University where she runs cross country and track. Despite her first-place finish among the women in the race, Beard hadn't actually raced in more than eight months.

"I felt really hot out there, it was my first race in like eight months," she said. "I've been living at home working, taking a gap year kind of thing."

She graduated high school in 2016 from St. Mary's Academy, and this year was her first time at the Freeom 5K. She said her race mentality is usually to know a good pace and stick to it.

PIONEER PHOTO: CONNER WILLIAMS  - Batya Beard (358) and her father, Peter, 51(556) finish the sixth annual Freedom 5K race together with about 100 meters left. Peter was one second behind his daughter and finished first in his age group.

"We hit the first mile in like 5:35 and that was a little fast, so it kind of died after that," Beard said. She ran with her father, Peter, 51, who finished just one second behind her.

"I was kind of trying to do about 5:50 to 6:00," she said. She ended up with an average pace of 5:59.

"It was really fun, we turned around the first corner and I was like 'Whoa, this is cool,' because everyone was lining the street and I had no idea it was that cool," Beard said. She said her father is a sports medicine-oriented physical therapist who helps coach her, and he said she should run a race at the beginning and end of July to track her training as she prepares for cross country in the fall.

She said she and her father run together occasionally, and he ran with her on the Fourth to help her pace it.

"We figured there wasn't going to be a whole lot of competition, so to have someone there to push me a little bit, that was the point of him running with me, he's a lot better runner than me," Beard said. Peter Beard finished in 18:35 and first in the 50-54 age grouping.

The race saw 483 runners take place this year, up 17 percent from last year's 412 runners. It saw people from all around the country, including Oregon, Montana, Ohio, Washington state, Arizona, Tennessee, Idaho, Texas, California, and Alabama.

PIONEER PHOTO: CONNER WILLIAMS  - Ethan Bever, 24, of Mulino, took third place overall with a time of 18 minutes, 24 seconds in the sixth annual Freedom 5K race.

Ethan Bever, 24, of Mulino, was the top local runner as he clocked an 18:24, finishing first in his age group of 20-24.

Ken Fetters, 50, also of Mulino, took second in his age group with a 19:27, while last year's female winner Hannah Clarizio, 20, of Molalla took fourth among the women this year and first in her age group, improving on her time from last year by 44 seconds.

PIONEER PHOTO: CONNER WILLIAMS  - Hannah Clarizio, 20, of Molalla, finished 14th overall and fifth among the women as she clocked a 19:54, beating her time from last year by 44 seconds.

The race was sponsored by Molalla Running Club and Foothills Community Church .

Click here for a full listing of results from the race. To see more photos from the event, visit us on Facebook.

Conner Williams
Sports Reporter/News Contributor
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