MILTON-FREEWATER — It’s safe to presume the youngest runner at today’s Color Me Freedom Fun Run here was 5 month-old Cache.
“Like the hollow,” one of the black lab puppy’s multiple “moms” explained.
Cache was one of 10 or so members of “Team Prefon-Tate’s,” a mash up name honoring famed long-distance runner and Oregon native Steve Prefontaine, along with nearly-famous Tate’s Umapine Mercantile eatery just outside of town.
Tate’s owner Tara Perkins, wearing a tie-dyed team shirt that matched Cache’s onesie, said this was her group’s second year to participate. Cache, she added, “is the most limber among us.”
The 5K run-walk has been hosted by the Milton-Freewater Kiwanis Club for five years in partnership with the National Guard troops based out of the Armory on Main Street. And while the event is still waiting to find its fortune, the money that does get raised through registration fees has helped provide a little extra for National Guard families, said Kiwanian Corky York.
Like the Christmas the local Guard troops were deployed, York said.
“We were able to get $100 gift cards for each family so they could buy presents.”
The color run that begins and ends at Yantis Park has struggled a bit to find its niche, he added.
“There are lots of other things for people to do on the Fourth, so last year we tried moving it to the weekend. That was a wash, so we moved it back to the Fourth of July and we’ll keep it there.”
For Tom and Coree Terguson of Helix, this was the perfect day to join in. When their daughter Mazee, now 7, was diagnosed as an infant with a heart defect, the family started participating in runs in Portland that benefitted heart care.
With the benefit of open-heart surgery at 4 months of age, Mazee is now a fine runner, as well, and joins in local runs with her parents and brother Jens, age 4.
“The kids have been wanting to do a color run and we missed the one in Tri-Cities,” Coree said.
“We saw this one and it looked fun.”
Color Me Freedom boasts five or more color stations along it route that wends through town and kisses the perimeter of the country outskirts. Volunteers at each spot hand out ice cold water bottles and douse willing runners with colored cornstarch. By the time runners return to the park, they should looks like moving rainbows. This year McLoughlin High School Key Club members and cheerleaders stepped up to help throw color, organizers said.
As the registration action heated up before the 9 a.m. start, Lupe Peña, along with Angelica Campos and her daughter Anahi, 8, were anticipating proudly wearing plenty of color with their team of 10. The Milton-Freewater residents had heard about the run for the first time and were eager to try it out, they said.
“I just did a 5K mud run in Portland and that was my first run,” Angelica said.
Today’s runners, about 125 total, were blessed with a temperature of about 70 degrees that was stirred by a breeze. All the better to spread the bagful of color each launched into the air at the 9 a.m. start.
It takes work to put it on, Kiwanis members agreed, but supporting National Guard families in such a visible way is worth every effort.