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Run attracted runners from 10 states, Afghanistan

By Staff | Oct 13, 2009

Freedom's Run participants cross the finish line in Shepherd University's Rams Stadium Oct. 3. Photo by Brittany Melkus/Chronicle

On Oct. 3 the inagural Freedom’s Run exceeded organizers expectations with around 1,700 participants running in the five events, making it the largest such race in West Virginia. Participants has the choice between running the full marathon, 26 miles, half marathon, 13 miles, 10K or 5K. There was also a one mile kids run. The race route took participants through the four national parks of Harpers Ferry, C&O Canal, Antietam Battlefield, and Potomac Heritage Trail. It ended at the Shepherd University Ram Stadium. Many participants were drawn to participate in the race because of the alluring scenery and historic areas in which the route was set.

“It was beautiful,” said Karen Dodsworth, a 5K race participant. Dodsworth and Dennis Dunn were visiting friends in West Virginia and decided to participate in the race while here. ” We loved it. We are going to come back to [West Virginia] more often,” said Dunn, who ran the 10K. Others were more excited to see the historic sites the area has to offer. “It was nice to see the C&O canal,” said Katie Kennedy. Kennedy and her husband Andy Kennedy, recently moved to Harpers Ferry and were excited to have a race nearby to keep in shape for.

There were others who participated in the race for more personal reasons. “[Running a race] was a life goal that I had. I am 21 years old now, and decided to go ahead and do it,” said Ashley Hawkins, a Shepherd University junior who ran the 5K.

Shepherdstown resident Karene Motivans particpated in the race as a way to get herself motivated to get in shape. “I turned 50 this year, so I needed a goal. I went from the couch to running a 5K since July,” said Motivans. Motivans daughter, Anya Wallace, 13, also ran the 5K. Wallace is on the cross country team at her school, and did well in the race. She finished 18th out of the 362 5K participants. Kenny Shaeiro from Frederick used the Freedom’s Race for training. “I am doing the Marine Corps marathon in three weeks. This is the last big marathon before then.”

No matter why people decided to participate, each and every one of them helped make the Freedom’s Run a huge success, organizers said. There were participants from more than 10 states and even one soldier in Afghanistan who ran the race at the same time as the particpants here. He contacted e-mailed officials to register and document his time. He has been participating in marathons since 2007.

Participants were given water, fruit, and bagels after they finished the race. There was also a post race party on the Shepherd Midway for race participants and community members. There were over 10 venders, including Charles Town Races and Slots, Mountain Llama Treks, and River Riders. There was also live music for the enjoyment of the crowd. The Bavarian also held an Oktoberfest for participants.

The Freedom’s Run has been dubbed a race for health and heritage. It strives to bring awareness of the health needs of the citizens in fighting obesity, promoting outdoor activity; and in the process discovering the rich history of the area. beneficiaries of the race are the “Wild and Wonderful Trails for Every Child” project and The Washington’s Way West Heritage Alliance.

The Freedom’s Race Committee was Mark Cucuzzella, Race Director, Lois Turco, Cheryl Keyrouze, Chris Amores, Tom Shantz, Bill Bondurant, Karen Abbamonte, and Christopher Horowicz. The event was hosted by Shepherd University.

There are plans to try to make the Freedom’s Run an annual event. Freedom’s Run would also like to have year round community activites including having organized runs on the C&O canal every Friday at 5:30 p.m.

For more information on Freedom’s Run or year round community events please visit http://www.freedomsrun.org/Default.aspx.