THE FINE PRINT: The following preview is written using the information available at time of publishing. Race organizers reserve the right to change the details, including route, sometimes without warning. That said, the details listed below may change come race-day. I do my best to avoid that whenever possible -- but sometimes it simply isn't possible. Thank you for understanding. Keep R/B/S'ing! -R3KC
Remember back in the day when there was a Jazz in the Woods 5k/10k? That was my first-ever 10k. I fell in love with the distance. But weeks later, I was registered for another 10k -- this one -- and the rest is history. Quite unfortunately, I haven't returned to the Lenexa Freedom Run since (do you know how many July 4th runs there are!??). But I am making my homecoming, and giving it the respect it deserves.
Yes, I am a Lenexa resident, and I am not at all reserved in saying I Like Lenexa. So I may be a bit biased, but nonetheless, the race has grown in popularity since my last appearance. And I look forward to returning.
Even since my last showing, things haven't changed as far as pick-up and registration (or race-day, actually). Which is perfectly fine with me. Things went rather smooth. Park in the Community Center parking lot and enter through the front doors. Signs will direct you from there (and pick up a I Like Lenexa bumper sticker while you're at it).
The official parking lot is located the same place your parked for packet pick-up: Lenexa Community Center. This lot is limited in capacity, though. Late-arrivals require some creativity in finding parking in the surrounding neighborhoods.
And to add to the late-arrival confusion, some of said neighborhoods will be closed to traffic. Namely, those along the run routes (see this handy map for details on road closures). And if you happen to nab a spot along the route, don't expect to get to leave anytime soon after the race.
The basics for the long-standing route...
Have you ever thought about tackling the 10k (or, even 5k) distance? This is a great race to give it your first roll. The course is flat, and, if you're doing the 10k, double-looped. Though participation has grown over the last 5-or-so years, it remains as family-friendly as ever (and, thus, a fair bit less intimidating).
Only 104 total feet climbing on route, and it comes in the form of shallow, barely-noticeable rollers. Though the course completes a near-loop, really it's an A-to-B, with the finish line (Lenexa Community Center) less than a quarter mile away from the start (Old Town Lenexa).
The start begins in Old Town, on Sante Fe Drive, and heads southwest, through 95th St, and takes a right on 99th in to Lenexa's Industrial/Commerce Park. The first mile comes right at the turn. This is essentially a "run around the block," but to reach the required 3.12/6.24-mile distance, a quick up-and-back on Alden is required. The turn-around at Alden is where runner's will find the first aid station.
Back on to 99th from Alden, the next turn is right heading north on Lackman. Really, the only noticeable change in elevation comes after the right turn heading east on to 95th (passing mile marker 2 on the way), where 95th dips ever-so-slightly, and then makes back up the elevation change with a short, shallow incline approaching Santa Fe.
On the approach to Santa Fe, you have two options: continue straight, if you're a 5k-er, or turn right back on to Santa Fe heading southwest for the second loop if you're a 10k-er (yes, the route crosses itself, so lookout for oncoming runners and adjust accordingly).
If you're a 5k-er (or a 10k-er at the end of your second lap), continue straight through Santa Fe, under the bridge, and turn left on Pflumm. The finish line is dead ahead, community center on your right.
Really, the only potential challenge with course is if the weather (as it likes to, in Kansas) decides it to be a hot, humid morning. The earlier 7am start time does help a bit with the heat, but humidity is generally higher in the AM, and 10k-ers planning to run longer than an hour are likely in store for a healthy dose of radiant heat as the sun begins to really hit its stride.
If you're looking for a family-friendly race, this is it. If you're looking for a competitive one to spend your 4th-of-July morning...this is also one! The top times are quite quick, and despite the wealth of Independence Day run options, participants come out in droves.
After such a lengthy absence, I am no doubt excited to make my homecoming.
Good run to all.
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