Shepherdstown greeted almost 2,000 runners Saturday as Freedom's Run returned with enthusiasm.
Local residents and runners from various states took to the local paths, trails and streets to compete in the "health and heritage" event, which features a marathon, half marathon, 10k, 5k and Kids Fun Run.
An event designed to promote healthy living for all ages, some came to the race Saturday as a family.
Shepherdstown residents Megan, Betsy and Chris Cardiel all ran the 10k race together Saturday for the second year in a row.
Megan, who is an 8th grade student at Shepherdstown Middle School and member of the school's cross country team, said she enjoys the opportunity to do something she finds fun, along with her parents.
"It's a fun thing to do with your family," she said.
Megan's parents said they started running along with their daughter- who placed first among her age group at last year's race and again Saturday, as a way to get in better shape and stay close.
"She leaves us in the dust," Chris said.
Both Betsy and Chris also acknowledged what the race means for the community's health.
"It supports different wellness activities locally," Betsy said.
Some first time and returning racers talked about the health benefits of the race and what it has meant for them in terms of personal achievement.
Annette Rakes, a Shepherdstown resident, battled her way back from life-threatening illness to run the race on Saturday.
Rakes, who was diagnosed earlier this year with Paget-Schroetter disease, a blood clotting disorder, had a rib removed only one month ago, but said she was determined to participate in Freedom's Run no matter what.
"I knew I wanted to do it," she said.
Rakes who did a walk/run of the 5K said, she started running only two years ago as a personal mission for self fulfillment
"At first it's difficult....You just build," she said.
With a course that takes marathoners through Harpers Ferry National Park, along the C&O Canal, through Antietam Battlefield and then back to Shepherdstown, Saturday's racers met the crisp and cool fall morning with excitement for the run and appreciation for the scenery.
"There was a deer running beside me a one point!" Blake Douglas, a Shepherd University student, said of his first time half marathon run Saturday.
A Martinsburg resident, Douglas returned to the race for the third year to run the half marathon for the first time.
Finishing the race 14th among his age group, in a time of 1 hour, 47 minutes, Douglas said he did better than expected.
"It went surprisingly well," he said of his scenic run.
Freedoms Run is held each year to help raise funds for local nature trails, historic parks and wellness programs. According to co-founder Lois Turco, the race Saturday raised $28,000 from sponsors. To find out more about Freedom's Run and to view the list of race winners, visit www.freedomsrun.org.