homepage logo

Partnering together for a healthier West Virginia

By Staff | Sep 21, 2018

As summer wraps up, the humid, warm mornings give way to crisp, cool air, lending itself perfectly to the fall running season. What better time for West Virginia’s largest running event on Oct. 6 — the 10th Annual Freedom’s Run, generously supported by American Public University System for the third consecutive year.

West Virginia is often viewed as an unhealthy place to live. Much of this opinion unfortunately comes from real data, as West Virginia is ranked as the nations most obese state and last when it comes to running paths. To help address this issue, Lois Turco of Canal Towns Partnership and I conceived an event to help enhance citizens awareness of both health and heritage, and, so, Freedom’s Run was born.

“We’re very proud to partner with Mark and Lois to support the annual Freedom’s Run,” said Amy Panzarella, APUS senior vice president of human resources and community affairs. “The event’s fundamental purpose aligns with our own core mission to be an engaged community citizen and also promote a healthy workplace and lifestyle for our local employees.”

The race is designed to attract those looking for a challenge, but also to lure visitors to enjoy the beautiful backdrop West Virginia and Maryland have to offer. The full marathon embarks from Harpers Ferry National Park and continues onto the C&O Canal, where it meets with the half marathon to continue to Antietam National Battlefield. Those running the 10k and 5k will enjoy a peaceful run along the Potomac River and the site of the Battle of Shepherdstown, finishing in the heart of historic Shepherdstown. All events end on the field at Shepherd University’s Ram Stadium.

Freedom’s Run seeks to create a West Virginia “Running Revolution.” This year’s event will draw over 2,000 participants (30 percent of which are local West Virginians) representing over 40 states, Canada and the United Kingdom. With a choice of the full marathon (26.2 miles), half marathon (13.1 miles), 10k (6.2 miles), 5k (3.1 miles) and One Mile Kids Fun Run, there’s something for the whole family. In fact, “Runner’s World” named Freedom’s Run to its 2016 “Bucket List: Top 10 Races for Whole Family.”

The annual event has cultivated a running community that supports local runs daily, summer camps for 150 middle and high school students, school-based trail building and programming and running coach certification courses, thanks in part to a partnership with local running store and race headquarters, Two Rivers Treads.

It’s not too late to become involved in Freedom’s Run. All racer levels are encouraged to register to run or walk, and plenty of volunteer opportunities are available as well. For more information about Freedom’s Run, visit www.freedomsrun.org.

Dr. Mark Cucuzzella is a professor at West Virginia University School of Medicine and the owner of Two River Treads in Ranson. To learn more about his health efforts in West Virginia, visit www.drmarksdesk.com/.