Spc. Robert Friese Honored With Highway Designation
5K Freedom Run/Walk Participants a Hardy Lot
By Dianne Alward-Biery
Cleaver Staff Writer
Copyright Clare County Cleaver
HARRISON – On the breezy, chilly morning of Saturday, April 28, young and old came to Veterans Freedom Park in Harrison to pit themselves against the 5k run or the 3-mile walking course at the 7th Annual 5K Freedom Run/Walk. Some came for a fun outing, while more competitive runners came prepared to put their best up against the timing clock.
The pre-race festivities included presentation of colors by the American Legion Honor Guard followed by welcoming remarks by Renee Haley, Clare County Veterans Services director.
The Veterans Freedom Park flags representing all branches of the military along with the American and POW/MIA flags are replaced every year. On behalf of the park, Joe Bradley accepted a check from this year’s benefactors, the Knights of Columbus.
A special poem was written for the occasion by Honor Guard member Ron Treziak and read by Honor Guard member Leslie Walters.
State Rep. Jason Wentworth also attended, and brought with him some long-awaited news. The day’s race was originated as the Spc. Robert Friese Memorial 5K Run/Walk, held to coincide with the anniversary of the date when Friese made the ultimate sacrifice for his country. The race’s name has evolved to encompass acknowledgment of all those who have given their lives in service. Still, the origin of the race is held dear in the community, and few do not know the name of Robert Friese.
Wentworth spoke of an effort which began in February when he, Renee Haley and the family of the late Robert Friese sat before legislators in Lansing to rename a portion of Business Route 127 as the Spec. Robert Friese Memorial Highway.
“The bill made it through both chambers and made it to the governor pretty easily,” Wentworth said. “But the governor has 14 days to sign a bill before it becomes law, and the governor takes his time.”
Wentworth said he enlisted the aid of Renee Haley to “call in the cavalry” and make calls to the governor’s office to get him to sign the bill before April 28.
“The good news is the governor signed this bill on Thursday,” he said. “It is official, we are going to name a portion of Business Route 127 as the Spc. Robert Friese Memorial Highway.”
He then presented framed memorial certificates to members of the Friese family and to Haley, then read the text aloud:
“The people of the State of Michigan enact Business Route 127 in Harrison, Michigan shall be known as the Spc. Robert Friese Memorial Highway.”
“And it’s signed and dated for today,” Wentworth said. “As you drive from the expressway through town, all the way past the fairground, that’s going to be the memorial highway. We’ll make sure that when people drive through here they recognize the sacrifice that Robert and his family has made, and the community has made.”
Sheriff John Wilson delivered a prayer to bless the day’s event and participants, and then it was off to the starting line for the anxious runners.
Serious runners bolted away, followed a field of families, friends, and those who enjoy running with their dogs. Bringing up the rear was a squad of army recruits who sang out in rhythmic cadence.
It was a relatively brief time before the first runners returned to the finish line at the park – 18 minutes, 6.7 seconds. Participants continued trickling in until shortly before the awards ceremony that followed inside the Hillside Elementary School gym. Lots of trophies and medals were awarded, but the lion’s share went to members of the Lockwood family who participated in many of the age categories.
The female and male Overall Winners were Alyson Parks (24:35.7) and Kevin Spicer-Torres (18:06.7). Female and male Master Winners were Raye Walraven (28.53.9) and Steve Seages (20:40.5).
The age categories and accompanying best times for female and male runners are listed below.
12 and younger: Aryanna Lockwood (31:01.5) and Tommy Dewey (26:03.7)
13-15: Kaitlyn Pell (36:15.8) and Maxemilian Coulson (39:01.4)
16-19: Erika Cullen (32:12.1) and James Holec (19:05.2)
20-24: Cherry Lockwood (26:51.5) and Andrew Lockwood (24:37.9)
25-29: Claire Kaisler (25:35.2) and Mick Haley (22:50.7)
30-34: Kamra Knop (28:15.7) and Jim Lockwood (20:44.6)
35-39: Tara Balog (34:52.2) and Andy Szwejda (27:35.4)
40-44: Holly Ensign (27:18.1) and Joe Crawford (19:05.6)
45-49: Ashleigh Schaberg (29:25.8) and Ron Callen (22:51.4)
50-54: Amy Stephan (37:45.1) and William Walraven (24:36.7)
55-59: Deana Horchner (29:25.3) and Tim Seney (25:02.5)
60-64: Shirley Schram (37:4.5) and Richard Miller (26.02.7)
65-69: Laura Evans (1:02:24.4) and Jerry Spate (30:10.7)
70 and older: Kris Georgia (41:46.3) and Stan Curtiss (32:45.2)
Epic Race Timing handled all the timing for the race and has made complete results available on the www.veteransfreedompark.com website, as well as on its own site: www.epicracetiming.com.