Church News - The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Freedom run commemorates Parley P. Pratt's escape from jail

Published: Saturday, July 17, 1999

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COLUMBIA, M0. — More than 100 runners and walkers donned official bib numbers and ran or walked in the Parley P. Pratt Memorial Freedom Run/Walk here July 3.

Two races, a one-mile run/walk and a 5K (3.1 miles) run/walk, commemorated the 160th anniversary of the escape of Parley P. Pratt, Morris Phelps and King Follett (later recaptured, but eventually freed) from a jail in Columbia, Boone County, Mo., on July 4, 1839.

"The escape of these prisoners from Missouri completed the expulsion of the Latter-day Saints from that state [Missouri], and closed a great epoch in the history of the Church." (History of the Church 3:402.)

The event was sponsored by the Missouri Church History Foundation and the Columbia 1st, 2nd and University wards, and was supported by a local sporting goods store and track club.

In addition to the races, there was a performance by a brass band comprised of local ward members, the re-telling of the saga by Elder Parley P. Pratt, and a quartet which sang the original words penned by Parley while in jail. (See History of the Church 3: 400.)

Following the one- mile run/walk was an awards ceremony honoring the youngest participant. Also receiving awards were participants who dressed in the most authentic 1830s attire, and the runner/walker who equaled "Parley's Escape Pace" — estimated by the race organizers as a 12-minute mile.

Awards for the winning male and female runners, as well as youngest female and male winners, were presented following the 5K race.

This commemorative event is planned to be held annually in Columbia on or near July 4.

— Craig Israelson