A Shepherdstown man goes the distance to inspire young runners

Mark Cucuzzella holds summer camps to teach running techniques

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W. Va. - Many know that running is good for your health, but after over 130 marathons, Shepherdstown’s Mark Cucuzzella is an expert.

He is a nationally ranked distance runner and has spent the last few years devoting his time to making a difference in his community.

Dr. Mark Cucuzzella is not only a physician, but a nationally ranked runner as well, yet his true passion lies in helping kids on their running techniques.

To do this he holds summer camps where he teaches runners how to properly train their bodies, but one of the most interesting things about him may be his own training.

Cucuzzella runs barefoot--and has been doing so for the past five years.

“It pretty much makes you bulletproof. If you go run on a road in your bare feet then your feet deal with those impacts and if your feet can't  deal with those impacts then you're probably running too hard," said Cucuzzella.

He is invested in teaching others because growing up he was always injured from running.

It wasn't until college that he decided to learn the medicine behind running and the kids that take part in his classes are glad he did.

Nico Feijo, a kid who takes the classes said the camp helps them. He said the classes help the runners, "not have an issue with our bodies so we don't get hurt and it's safer. The community i think benefits, a lot of kids have fun here so i think it's good."

Cucuzzella has perfected how to control his body in a way that allows him to land softly on hard gravel surfaces.

He was even given a nickname because he was always out running barefoot on the streets.

“They used to call me Forest Gump because I was just this weird guy running and I haven't heard that in five years because now there's like a lot of people who are running which is cool," said Cucuzzella.

He hopes that this will not only inspire kids to run, but keep obesity rates down and help them succeed in school.

Cucuzzella is also the director of freedom's run, which happens every October.

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