2014 Damascus Freedom 5K Race Recap

September 9, 2014

The fifth annual Damascus Freedom 5K was held this past Sunday in Damascus, Maryland.  The town is about 50-60 minutes north of DC.


Image: Damascus Freedom 5K

Once you get to upper MoCo, you see more views like this.  


I signed up for this race 3 days prior to Sunday.  I was looking for a 5K that was low key, small, local, and went to a good cause. I found this race on Run Washington -it fit all the criteria I was looking for in a run.  Proceeds benefited the Wounded Warrior Project, Fisher House, USO, DIsabled American Veterans, and Hero Dogs.  Why did I sign up for this? In the words of Mr. Gump, “Because I felt like running” plus I wanted a change of scenery from the DC routes. 

Packet Pickup

Packet pickup was held on Saturday at MMA & Sport in Damascus or beginning at 7:30am on race day.  I opted for race day pickup, it was easy peasy.  I arrived at 8:00am, went to the picnic pavilion at Damascus Regional Park, and got my bib and tee.  For $5 extra you could upgrade to a technical tee, but cotton was fine with me.


Because Damascus Dental Group was a sponsor, we also received a new toothbrush – a first for me in terms of race “swag”.


Race Goals (“A” least probable and “C” most probable)

Since this was a fun race, I did not make any time goals. 

  • A – Do not get caught up with the numbers
  • B – Enjoy the scenery
  • C – Finish the race

Knowing this race would follow my Saturday 14 miler, this 5K should be easy on the legs.

Damascus Freedom 5K

After packet pickup I dropped off the items in my car and put on my bib (no tracking chip or b-tags) – so vintage moment #1.  I grabbed my handheld water bottle and jogged around the parking lot for a warmup before heading to the start (by those trees down the hill).  After observing two moments of silence for Flights 11 and 175 the race started at 9:11am. 


This was a small out and back race, with plus/minus 200 runners.  We started at Damascus Regional Park, ran north along the Magruder Branch Trail, lopped around a grassy and wooded path for about a tenth of a mile, and head back to the trail and to the park.  Below is the course map – vintage moment #2.


My phone was awkwardly tucked away in my belt, so I did not get any shots.  The weather was beautiful, there was low humidity, and it was well shaded along the trail.  Even though I studied the map, I did not look at the elevation.  The first half took us downhill (some switchbacks), which meant the second half would take us up those hills.  Since my legs were tired from the hill work the day before, I utilized a 30:30 run/walk interval up the hills.  When it flattened out I would run. 

At the top of the hill I met two nice ladies who ran the entire way up! It turns out one went to my high school…..but 8 years later haha.  We ran together for the last .2 miles and it was a nice mini downhill to the finish.  I wish I took a picture of the chalk finish line!

My splits were as follows:

  • Mile 1: 11:22
  • Mile 2: 12:02
  • Mile 3: 12:49

I finished with a time of 37:13 and I was completely happy with it.  Even though I had my Garmin on, I did not obsess with my numbers, try to negative split, or attempt to PR (30:57). Another surprise, a medal!  What a fun goodie for a 5K. 


And the best part….the post race food and entertainment. 


Look at that food! I love me some watermelon.


They were even barbequing hot dogs and hamburgers.


Final Thoughts

  • If you signed up before June, the race entry is only $21.  What a steal for what is included.
  • There was a water stop near the turnaround and volunteers were located along the course to keep runners in the right direction.
  • I did not see mile markers (I could be oblivious) – which was fine with me because I had my Garmin and studied the map.  Just to keep in mind if you run this race in the future.
  • After dozens of larger races, it was so fun to participate in a smaller race. I think I will make sure to include more of them in 2015 🙂
  • It was such a beautiful day for a run and I loved the trail we used (first time I was on it).
  • I did not stick around long for the post race food – but such a great spread! They also had Jimmie Cone ice cream – I heard it is a local favorite (4.5 stars on Yelp).
  • I emailed the race director for instructions on Wednesday and he responded the same day!
  • Update 9/10: We received free race photos as well!

Overall I had a great experience and I would hope to make this a yearly event.  Next year my goal is to run up the hill the entire way 🙂


Hmmmm… just realized this was my 14th race in 2014. I had no idea! Still more to come in 2014!

Do you like small races?

Any interesting swag like my toothbrush?

If you are participating in the #14in2014 challenge, how are you doing?

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