5Ks, other runs enliven spring in Panhandle

CHARLES TOWN – Looking for ways to add a healthy air to springtime? In the weeks ahead, the Eastern Panhandle will be home to a number of 5Ks and other outdoor events.
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Dr. Mark Cucuzzella is a nationally known marathoner and running expert who is helping to organize two spring running events, This Race Is For The Birds and the Harpers Ferry Half Marathon.

First up is the Miana Stewart Scholarship 5K on April 14. Randy and Mary Stewart of Gerrardstown are launching the race for runners and walkers 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.

The 5K on the track at Musselman’s football stadium begins at 9 a.m. The cost is $20 for those who sign up by April 5 or $25 the day of the race. Those who pre-register get a T-shirt. There are discounts for students and members of the Shenandoah Valley Runners.

To request a registration form or get additional details, call 304-229-5299.

Also next month is This Race Is For The Birds, which happens on April 21 at the National Conservation Training Center in Shepherdstown.

When it began, This Race Is For The Birds was simply a 5K run. Now the event includes two professionally timed trail races: one 4.9 miles long and another that covers 7.7 miles. A self-timed, two-mile run/walk for families and a free, one-mile fun run for children also are offered.

The race at the NCTC’s lush, 538-acre campus dates to 2002, but last spring’s race was cancelled at the last minute because of a federal government budget impasse.

Because This Race Is For The Birds is held on federal property, organizers opted to call off the race when congressional leaders remained unable to agree on a spending bill as the April 9 race neared.

Just minutes before the midnight budget deadline, Republican and Democratic negotiators agreed on spending reductions. Following days of closed-door talks, the shutdown was averted, but by then the race already had been scrubbed.

Proceeds from This Race Is For The Birds benefit the Potomac Valley Audubon’s programs for children. For more on the race, which begins at 9 a.m., go to www.raceforthebirds.org.

Another Jefferson County running event is entering its second year.

The May 12 Harpers Ferry Half Marathon includes not only the 13-mile race but also a four-mile trail run and a kids’ run.

Dr. Mark Cucuzzella, the nationally known marathoner and running expert whose autumn Freedom’s Run marathon has quickly become West Virginia’s largest running event, is the organizer of the Harpers Ferry run, a hilly, challenging course that 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, with proceeds going toward the Harpers Ferry-based For the Love of Children organization’s outdoor education center and to Eastern Panhandle Indigo Children.

Details can be found at www.harpersferryhalf.org or by calling Two Rivers Treads, the race headquarters at Cucuzzella’s running outfitters in Shepherdstown at 304-876-1100. His website is www.trtreads.org.

And for those who’d prefer to ride not run, there’s the CASA River Century, which will bring cyclists from near and far to Shepherdstown for a fundraiser for the Eastern Panhandle chapter of Court Appointed Special Advocate, which provides volunteers to aid children have been removed from their homes because of abuse and/or neglect.

The nationwide CASA program has 10 organizations in West Virginia; volunteers established the Eastern Panhandle CASA in 2003.

The self-paced bike ride on May 19 starts on the campus of Shepherd University. Cyclists can choose from routes of 25, 50 or 100 miles. There also is a 25-mile off-road option.

Samantha Muncy, the ride director, notes River Century offers full support with breakfast, lunch and a swag bag for all riders. Aid stations also will be offered, along with a sag wagon for those who sag behind and need a hand getting back to the starting line.

“It’s a perfect chance to explore the beautiful Eastern Panhandle,” Muncy said. “The CASA River Century offers routes for all ability levels, from families with children to recreational cyclists or serious cyclists who are looking for a training event early in the season. And you’ll be helping a great cause.”

The event raises money through sponsorships and fees paid by riders. Early-bird fees range from $20 for either of the 25-mile routes or $40 for the longer trips. After April 22, the fees increase to $35 or $50. To sign up or find out more about the race, go to www.casarivercentury.org.[/cleeng_content]

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