July 4 Freedom Fest 5K draws hundreds on America’s birthday
Dave Larsen, Sentinel EditorMore than 400 people couldn’t wait for fireworks at Fort Hood July 4.
Thursday, July 12, 2012
The first bang participants of the Freedom Fest 5K Run/Walk were waiting for came from a starter’s pistol.
Though event participants all got an early start to their Independence Day celebration, most still planned to stick it out until the fireworks display on the installation after dark.
“My parents are in from South Dakota,” said Roger Frankenstein, the first sergeant for Company B, 3rd Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division. “We’ll take them to the post and show them the fireworks this evening.”
Frankenstein came out early on the 4th to support his daughter, Kayla. The 14-year-old Lampasas High School student runs to stay in shape for her other sporting interests.
“I run track and play basketball,” she said, “and that requires a lot of running.”
Nicholas Van Houten, a sergeant with Company A, 1st Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cav. Div., said he picked up running 5Ks as a hobby while deployed in Kuwait. Though he’s only been back in Texas from his yearlong deployment a little more than a week, Van Houten said he tricked his wife to come out to the event with their two young daughters.
“Funny story,” he said, “I said, ‘Hey, let’s go out for ice cream,’ and we ended up here.”
The Van Houtens, who will celebrate their fifth wedding anniversary in August, pushed their daughters Raeanna, 1, and Aiden, 3, in a double stroller during the event.
Though temperatures rose to the mid-to-upper 90s later in the day, when the starter’s gun fired ,it was a comfortable 80 degrees for participants.
Once the runners, and walkers, were on the course, top runners soon out-distanced the field.
Jorge Hernandez started near the front of the pack, took the lead and won the event by several hundred meters.
Hernandez, a specialist with 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st BCT, 1st Cav. Div., returned from deployment several weeks ago and hopes to earn a spot on the Fort Hood Army Ten-Miler team.
“I’m trying to run (10 miles) between 57 and 58 minutes,” he said after crossing the finish line in 16:32.
He said he’s just started getting more road work into his training routine now that he’s home again.
“In Kuwait, I ran in the gym (on a treadmill),” he said. “We couldn’t run outside there with the sand and the heat.”
Killeen High School runner Brittany Mitchell, 16, was the top female finisher in the event. She came across the finish line at 18:24.
For others, the Freedom Fest run wasn’t about competition, though. It was about connecting with the Fort Hood community on Independence Day.
“I’m just supporting what’s going on,” David Neal, a sergeant major with the 57th Expeditionary Signal Battalion, said, noting that he urged about a dozen others from his battalion to take part in the event.
“This is my first Fourth of July here,” Neal said, “and I’ve heard a lot of great things about it (Freedom Fest).”