Some of the area’s finest hit the road for Freedom’s Run
SHEPHERDSTOWN – Shepherdstown resident Jared Matlick, 24, started running when he was in middle school.
His father, Roy, said he would fuss almost every day about practicing. If he wanted to quit, just let the coach know, his mother would tell him. But he continued with it.
It was the long distances, Roy said, that Jared didn’t particularly care for. It wasn’t until he finished college that he got into distance running.
“I used to be a quartermiler in high school; then I moved up to the half mile,” Jared said.
He eventually went on to run his first half marathon. Then a local doctor and Freedom’s Run race director, Mark Cucuzzella, convinced him five weeks before a marathon in Maryland to run it.
And on Saturday, Jared completed his second marathon in the second annual Freedom’s Run.
More than 2,500 runners participated in this year’s four races. Representatives from 40 states came to Shepherdstown to run, including some of the Eastern Panhandle’s finest, taking to the road to tackle the challenging courses.
Betty Jo Hersh, 46, of Falling Waters, was a first-time participant in the half marathon. Hersh’s goal was to finish “but not be last,” and she completed just under 2 hours.
“The hills are really hard,” she said.
Hersh added, “But it was a beautiful run. It’s a beautiful day. I’m glad I did it. It was on my bucket list.”
The marathon courses boasts hills over halfway through at Antietam. After running for miles on a flat surface, the 26.2-mile race suddenly is literally an uphill battle.
“It’s definitely a challenge,” said Harpers Ferry resident and first-time marathoner Thad Brown, 39, about the hills.
For Thad it was all about making it across the finish line in a certain amount of time. The husband and father had trained, gradually working up to long runs, tapping out at 20-mile runs just two weeks before Saturday’s marathon.
But at about mile 22, Thad hit the wall.
“I do have a competitive edge, but I do have a time goal, and I hope I meet it,” Thad said Friday evening before the 7 a.m. start.
Thad’s ideal time was 3 hours and 45 minutes. He crossed the finish line six minutes shy of his goal.
“But I’m all right with it,” he said, considering he ended up having to plug along at a slower pace the last few miles.
And though Thad’s children Gigi, 7, and Mason, 3, running the Kids Fun Run, it was his wife, Wendy, 38, that helped keep him motivated throughout his training.
Wendy, who started running a year and a half ago, trained for the half marathon alongside her husband. Though she missed the registration for the half marathon, she completed the Freedom’s Run 10K.
While Thad had a time goal at the forefront of his mind, Wendy races for other reasons.
“I’m just doing it mainly for fitness,” she said. “I just don’t care about my time. Running for me is a great way to meditate and stay fit.”
On top of her personal gain of running, Wendy thinks her children get something out of it, too. Money raised from the race goes toward putting trails and learning gardens in at local schools. Being a mother, Wendy likes to see that the Freedom’s Run is giving back to the community.
“I think it’s great that they’re donating so much to the schools and keeping kids fit.”
Mike Hinkle, of Shenandoah Junction, appreciates the race’s mission, also. Hinkle, 40, and his 12-year-old daughter, Madison, finished the 5K Saturday.
“We did pretty good,” Hinkle said. “It was her first time running. This one was my second. I did better than last year.”
Madison’s soccer teammates also ran the race.
“I’ve seend the impact on these girls – the soccer team,” Hinkle said. “My daughter actually turned down a Dairy Queen because she knew it wasn’t good for her.”
For Amy Campbell, 42, of Shepherdstown, while she runs because she is thankful for her health and thinks it’s a blessing, it’s also about being a role model.
“It’s just important to me – I have two young girls – to be a good example for them,” she said. “It’s about passing it on and helping the kids out.”
Perhaps one local resident to look towards as an example is Jared Matlick.
Jared finished just over 3 hours. Though he was no marathon veteran – Saturday’s race was only his second marathon – running is in Jared’s blood.
“I did pretty good,” Jared said. “I didn’t expect to run a too amazing time.”
He said halfway through the marathon course he felt he was on track with his time. Then he got cramps in his shins and had to walk a couple of times.
But still, Jared beat his first marathon time by about three minutes. And he plans to continue running.
“Everday he’s out there,” his dad, Roy, said. “Rain or shin, snow or whatever, he’s running.”