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Marathon runners light out

By Staff | Oct 2, 2009

Freedom’s Run, which traces several paths of the nation’s history, is on track to make its own history in the inaugural year, organizers said.

With entries in excess of 1,000 now in the five events, it is approaching the numbers of the largest race in West Virginia. Entries also are picking up quickly as Saturday’s race date nears, said Race Director Mark Cucuzzella, MD, a family physician in Harpers Ferry.

“With the kids’ one-mile run and 5k/10k events likely to attract several hundred more from our local community, we could surpass the Parkersburg Distance Festival, the largest in the state with 1,700 runners and walkers this year in four events,” he said. “Our signature events, though, are the marathon and half marathon, which take you through a tour of our nation’s history and the preserved land.”

Other large established races in the state are the Charleston Distance Festival with 1,100 participants in four events, and the Wheeling Distance Festival with 1,000 in four events.

Freedom’s Run will feature five events for runners and walkers of all ages and abilities. The events allow runners and walkers to explore the land in a challenging and scenic marathon connecting Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, The C&O Canal, The Potomac Heritage Trail, and Antietam National Battlefield; a half marathon through Antietam and the C&O; a 5k and 10k crossing the Potomac and running out and back on the C&O; and a kids’ fun run touring historic Shepherdstown.

The events will finish on Shepherd University’s football field.

The race will benefit Wild and Wonderful Trails for Every Child, a local initiative to build a fitness trail and learning garden at every school in the county and Washington’s Way West Heritage Alliance, which is working toward establishing the region as a National Heritage Area.

All participants receive a colorful tech-fiber T-shirt, and finishers receive a commemorative poster with a historical narration of the course. Freedom’s Run is bringing a “green” theme to the race, too. Runners will receive a reusable backpack for their gear, a BPA-free hand-carry water bottle to encourage “carry and fill” at aid stations, and a reusable Freedom’s Run pint glass for the post-race Oktoberfest. Shoe recycling will be available, so bring your old treads.

There also will be post-race parties with live music on the Shepherd University Green.

The event will finish at the Ram Stadium with a post race party to be held on the Shepherd Midway and an Oktoberfest at the Bavarian Inn. A pasta dinner fundraiser for the Dr. Gonino Scholarship Fund is set from 4 to 8 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 2, in the Butcher Center. Tickets are $10. Register or volunteer at www.freedomsrun.org.

– From staff reports