SHENANDOAH JUNCTION – Despite the snow in the forecast for the Panhandle this week, springtime and a number of 5Ks and other invigorating outdoor events are just weeks away.
Next month, leaders with Jefferson County Parks and Recreation will offer their first-ever 5K obstacle race.
Officials say “The Charge” will be a first for the county and will feature “muddy, endurance-testing obstacles” as well as a Civil War theme, with a cannon shot heralding the race’s start, the presence of Civil War re-enactors amid the course and details that highlight local history from that period.
Parks officials say the April 13 race offers a break from the traditional 5K and will appeal not just to athletes but to “individuals who want to push themselves in a fun and safe, yet still physically demanding environment.”
Money raised through the event will go to two local nonprofits: the Jefferson County Parks and Recreation and For Love of Children’s Outdoor Education Center, which provides character development exercises for youth and adults in its outdoor classroom in Harpers Ferry.
Miana Stewart Scholarship 5K
Also on April 13: the second-annual Miana Stewart Scholarship 5K run/walk. Last spring’s inaugural event, held in memory of the 14-year-old athlete slain seven years ago, more than 200 came to Bunker Hill to take part.
“We have heard that was a good turnout for a first year,” explained Randy Stewart, the Gerrardstown man who organized the race along with his wife, Mary Stewart.
The couple sees the event as another way to add funds to the scholarship they created in memory of their only child.
Miana was killed Oct. 13, 2005, when she came home from Musselman High School and interrupted a burglary at the family’s home on Reunion Corner Road.
So far, the Stewarts have awarded some $19,000 in scholarships. According to Mary Stewart, much of the money has come in over the years through community donations and gifts from family and friends in memory of Miana on her Nov. 28 birthday and at Christmas.
“We want to keep the scholarship going indefinitely so we are doing this 5K to make sure that can happen,” she said.
Athletes can sign up at active.com, find an application and other details on the “In Memory of Miana R. Stewart” Facebook page or request a registration form by calling the Stewarts at 304-229-5299.
This Race is for the Birds!
Also coming up in April: the Potomac Valley Audubon Society’s 12th annual “This Race is for the Birds!”
The race happens on the 538-acre campus of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Conservation Training Center just outside Shepherdstown.
Participants may choose from two professionally time races, one 4.9 miles long and the other 7.7 miles long. Both take runners along trails that wind through the forests and fields of the NCTC campus that normally aren’t open to the public.
There’s also a two-mile community jog/walk designed for families or anyone who desires a slower pace. The non-profit also will offer a mile-long “fun run” for children 10 and younger.
Audubon officials say the fun run is free to enter while fees for the other “Birds!” courses range from $15 to $25. Registration info and other details are on the race website, raceforthebirds.org or may be obtained by contacting Kristin Alexander (email@example.com or 304-676-3397).
Money raised during the event will go to the local Audubon’s programs for children.
CASA River Century
For those who would prefer to ride, not run, May brings the CASA River Century – a fundraiser that benefits the local chapter of Court Appointed Special Advocates, which provides volunteers to aid children have been removed from their homes because of abuse and/or neglect.
The nationwide program has 10 organizations in West Virginia; volunteers established the Panhandle’s CASA in 2003.
CASA volunteer Samantha Muncy is again coordinating the event. She notes River Century offers riders full support with breakfast, lunch and swag. Aid stations also will be offered, along with a sag wagon for those who sag behind and need a lift to get back to the starting line.
Cyclists who sign up for the self-paced bike ride on May 18 can choose a 25-mile route, 50-mile courses that wind through Jefferson County or through Berkeley, or the full 100-mile “century” that encompasses both the Jefferson and Berkeley options.
The event raises money through sponsorships and fees paid by riders. To sign up or find out more about the race, go to casarivercentury.org.
Harpers Ferry Half Marathon
Another Jefferson County running event is entering its fourth year. The May 11 Harpers Ferry Half Marathon includes not only a 13-mile race but also a four-mile trail run and a free kids’ run.
Dr. Mark Cucuzzella, the nationally known marathoner and running expert, is the man behind the Harpers Ferry event.
The hilly, challenging course begins at the Harpers Ferry National Historical Park. The idea, Cucuzzella has said, is to highlight the area’s national parks, engage the local community in healthy outdoor activities and to make Eastern West Virginia a destination anyone interested in pursuing fitness in an area known for its natural beauty.
The race is part of the Two Rivers Heritage Partnership. Proceeds from the race will go to FLOC’s outdoor school and to Eastern Panhandle Indigo Children.
Details on the Harpers Ferry Half may be found at harpersferryhalf.org or by calling race headquarters at 304-876-1100. That’s also the way to reach Two Rivers Treads, Cucuzzella’s running outfitters in Shepherdstown. His website is trtreads.org.
Freedom’s Run honored
Cucuzzella also is the co-creator of Freedom’s Run, the autumn race that has become West Virginia’s largest such running event.
The half-marathon offered as part of Freedom’s Run was listed in February’s edition of Runner’s World as one of the nation’s 50 best such courses.
The magazine’s article, called “The Better Halfs: 2013 Half-Marathon Guide,” ranks the Freedom’s Run half-marathon as No. 19, calling it a “Historic Wonder.”
“Usually when runners write in about a race, a theme emerges,” the passage on Freedom’s Run notes. “But this small, much-loved event was described as moving, fun, inspiring and tough.” It also notes that at the race’s conclusion, participants are treated to a Oktoberfest party with a pint glass and live bands.
Though organizers note they haven’t yet nailed down the required permits, the tentative date for the fifth-annual race is Oct. 12.
For more details on the event – sponsored by West Virginia University Hospitals-East and the WVU Health Sciences Center Eastern Division – runners may go to freedomsrun.org.
Free running clinics
Want help getting geared up for a 5k or longer race? Cucuzzella will offer free running clinics again in April at The Wellness Center at City Hospital.
The sessions are aimed at promoting proper form, preventing injuries and helping runners improve performance.
The clinics, geared to runners of all levels, happen on the first Friday of each month. A 4 p.m. session covers training tips, stability, mobility and strength. The 5 p.m. workshop is focused on running form.
Anyone may attend one or both, but pre-registration is required. Those interested may call 304-264-1287, ext. 31814 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.