Freedom’s Run draws crowd
Every year in early October, runners from all over the globe travel to Shepherdstown for Freedom’s Run.
More than 2,000 athletes participated in this year’s event, the seventh annual race, and some local runners shined on the course, including the male winner in the full marathon.
Jack Baronner of Martinsburg came in with a time of 2 hours, 48 minutes, 44 seconds to finish as the male winner and overall winner in the marathon. Baronner also won the Harpers Ferry half marathon this year, picking up some big local wins.
Alexandra Petersen from Herndon, Virginia, was the female winner and overall winner of the marathon with a time of 3:19:45.
The course provided a good mix of terrain and plenty of friendly competition among the runners.
“I thought I did good. I’m really happy,” Shannon Matthews of Bakerton said.
Matthews placed second for the female marathoners with a time of 3:20:02, coming in just behind Petersen.
“That was my goal on the hills (to have no one pass her),” Matthews laughed. “My main thing today was I just wanted to run it smart, and I figured if nobody’s passing me, then I didn’t go out too fast, ran it pretty steady.”
In the half marathon, a pair from Charlottesville, Virginia, earned first and second. William Sbach (1:19:53) and Colin Kielty (1:23:27) earned the top two positions, respectively, while Liz Greenlaw from Arlington, Virginia, claimed the prize as top female with a time of 1:31:42.
Local runner Laura Bergmann (1:39:43) from Bakerton placed fifth in the female group, shaving a few minutes off her time from last year.
“I’ve done (Freedom’s Run) every year since the beginning, but this is my fastest time ever,” Bergmann said with a huge smile. “Very exciting. I’m training for a marathon so I did four miles before the race, so that’s even more exciting.”
The half marathon provided just as much competition as the full, with runners pushing each other until the end.
“It’s always nice to be able to pace with a guy,” half-marathoner Carl Gnewuch said.
Gnewuch placed fifth in the half with a time of 1:24:12. Just a minute separated him and the second-place finisher.
“I’m just training. I’ve got a race in Richmond coming up, so this is just practice,” Gnewuch said. “It’s hard, and it’s hilly, which is perfect. It’s like speed work. It’s perfect.”
The 10K came down to a race between two local runners – Hedgesville High runner Daniel Beavers and Martinsburg coach Charles Walters. Beavers edged Walters by about a minute with a time of 34: 16, while Walters crossed the finish line in 35:30.
On the female side, Stephanie Borland of Hagerstown claimed first with a time of 38:28.
The top three runners in the 5K all hail from the Eastern Panhandle, starting with first-place finisher Brad Dodson (17:57) of Martinsburg. Bradley Sponaugle (18:40) of Martinsburg and Joshua Tiffany (19:29) of Harpers Ferry finished second and third, respectively.
Darcy Farrell of Winchester, Virginia, placed first for females with a time of 21:35.
Debra Clarkson of Clayton, North Carolina, and Nancy Roisum of Salisbury, Maryland, were two of many runners participating in their first Freedom’s 5K. For Roisum, it was her first race ever.
“The hills are challenging, but they don’t kill you. We’re still alive and able to talk,” she said, laughing.
They got plenty of support along the course, which pushed the pair to run a little more than usual.
“Cheers me up,” Clarkson laughed. “It makes me want to run more because I’ve been doing walk-run. We don’t run the whole thing, so it encourages me to run more.”