Starting and ending at Bloomin’ Deals, the Freret 5K is an annual fundraising event for the Junior League of New Orleans. Bloomin’ Deals and the Bridal Boutique are situated in the middle of Freret Street, and hosting the 3.1-mile race allows the Junior League to focus on this neighborhood and help it continue to grow.

As runners lined up at the starting line, a wide array of athletes began to appear. Young runners and seasoned runners lined up. Runners in athletic gear and costumes emerged. Masked runners, tutu-clad runners and even riders of strollers began to congregate. The DJ began playing Pharrell’s “Happy” and the runners were off. This year’s winner was Will Wearing with a time of 16:53 to cross the finish line. The first female to cross the finish line was Laura Carleton with a time of 18:51. While the Freret 5K does award annual winners, the spirit of community and enjoyment surpass competitiveness. As the morning continued, the Tulane brass band played songs as sleeping babies in strollers, superheroes, Usain Bolt posers and other athletes crossed the finish line.

Two youth groups made a large showing at the event, Girls on the Run and Youth Run Nola. “Our goal is to empower, educate and inspire girls around New Orleans,” said Georgina Dench, Program Director for Girls on the Run New Orleans. The popular after school program for girls in third through eighth grade, “inspires girls to be joyful, healthy and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum which creatively integrates running.” Girls on the Run brought participants and their Happy Hair Station, which Georgina explained “helped put the girls in a joyful spirit for the race” by putting bright colors and glitter in their hair. Georgina said that Girls on the Run, who also partners with JLNO for Kids in the Kitchen, decided to participate in the Freret 5K because the JLNO’s mission aligned with their own.

Another youth group with a large showing was Youth Run Nola. Tierney Jackson, a local Youth Run Nola participant said that Youth Run Nola is “kids of all different ages coming together” and felt the Freret 5K brought all their practice and hard work to an exciting culmination. “Exercise turned into fun for everyone,” Tierney said. “Everyone became hyped up at the race. We got to meet new people, which allowed us to live out our values of community and joy.”

The race concluded with a block-party filled with refreshments ranging from orange slices and pizza to beer and mimosas. The Freret 5K could not happen without the  help of our generous sponsors. A big thank you goes out to the Grand Champion Sponsor Ochsner Baptist and the Gold Sponsor The New Orleans Advocate. Another big thank you goes out to all the volunteers who took time out of their busy days to make this event possible. Proceeds of the Freret 5K benefit JLNO’s mission and community projects.

Spirit of Community
Clint Walpole is happy to be approaching the finish line. Photo by: Stephanie Campani