Shutdown may affect upcoming marathon

Oct 3, 2013

The federal government shutdown could possibly impact the upcoming Freedom’s Run marathon in the Eastern Panhandle if the shutdown is still going on at the end of next week. But the Marathon will continue regardless of whether the government’s closed.

This is the fifth year for the marathon and one of its main attractions is the route it takes through four national parks. Those parks are closed because of the federal government shutdown. But there is a contingency plan.

Freedom's Run Marathon in 2010
Credit Freedom's Run

“It’s something that when you plan for an event like this for a year you run through all your contingencies and think of things you can control and this one didn’t come into the radar until about 10 days ago,” Mark Cucuzzella, Freedom’s Run director, said. “So yes if there is a government shutdown we will not be able to use the parks.”

Cucuzzella is hoping for a quick resolution to the shutdown but said organizers have mapped out “a really nice alternate route” for runners to use if the federal government is still closed the day of the event, Oct. 12, 2013.

“So the show will go on and I think this will be a good stance of solidarity to health and fitness and community doesn’t stop when the government decides they can’t figure things out and come to agreement,” he said.

Freedom’s Run offers a one mile kids run, a 5K, 10K, half marathon and full marathon. The number of participants is capped at 25 hundred for the four races and Cucuzzella said close to that number is signed up.

The afternoon and evening before the race there are several events in Shepherdstown, W.Va. and at Shepherd University. A pre-race pasta dinner will feature a talk by West Virginian Jamie Summerlin.

“And Jamie ran across the country last year to raise money for military foundations and he just wrote a book called Freedom Run,” Cucuzzella said. “So he’s very generously offered to come here and speak at the pasta dinner, share his story. He’s going to run the race too.”

There will also be a free screening of the film In the High Country, which followed runner Anton Krupicka for a year as he lived and ran in the mountains. Krupicka and filmmaker Joel Wolpert will be there.

“I think what will be really cool is they’ll answer questions from the audience and talk about how to make a movie,” Cucuzzella said. “Meet Anton, he’s kind of an icon in the ultra-running world, one of the best ultra-marathoners in the world and people will be coming from all over just to meet Anton.”

Cucuzzella calls Krupicka “kind of a cult figure out there, (who) travels, sleeps in his truck and runs up and down mountains when the spirit hits him.”

“Probably a lot of us wish we had that kind of life where we don’t have to be at work at seven o’clock every day,” he said.

Freedom’s Run is featured in last month’s Running World Magazine and Cucuzzella said he’s excited that a little event he started five years ago to raise money for trails and gardens for schools is gaining national attention.