Locals make a run on Boston

April 16, 2006

Thirty-nine-year-old Mark Cucuzzella of Shepherdstown, W.Va., is the swiftest of the 10 Tri-State runners set to compete in the 110th Boston Marathon on Monday.

It will be Cucuzzella's 40th marathon and 10th Boston. In 1998, he placed 33rd overall at Boston in 2 hours, 24 minutes.

More than 20,000 runners are registered for the legendary race Monday. Cucuzzella's goal: "I'd like to try to get back in the top 50," he said. "But the top 100 would be good enough."

So how has Cucuzzella managed to fly under the radar in the local running scene?

Easy. He competes for the U.S. Air Force. That and he's lived in the area for less than a year. Cucuzzella, his wife and their two kids moved to Shepherdstown from Colorado last summer. He works as a physician at Harpers Ferry Family Medicine.


"I take a lunch break and go to the C&O Canal," Cucuzzella said. "I try to run 6 to 8 miles at lunch and then one longer run on the weekends between 15 and 16 miles. It's less than I used to do, but I have two young children. Now it's more about stress relief and physical fitness."

The Boston Marathon is an ultimate test of fitness. Before runners can even attempt to tackle the fabled 26.2-mile course, they must reach a qualifying standard (based on age and gender) at another marathon. That's one of the reasons Boston is the Super Bowl of marathons. A world-class field, world-wide media attention and more than a century of tradition are the others.

"I just go up and enjoy it," Cucuzzella said. "There are 1 or 2 million people on the route cheering. I'm an Air Force reservist and the race is on Patriots Day, so to go as their representative is a fun way to do it. You wear the gear and people will yell at you along the way."

The race also doubles as a Cucuzzella family reunion.

"I have two brothers who live in Baltimore running it and two cousins running it," said Cucuzzella, who grew up in Ellicott City, Md. "There will be five Cucuzzellas running it. The most we've ever had before was three.

"We all go up there and have fun and have some beers afterwards."

Also running Monday are: Bruce Attavian, 56, of Hagerstown; Glenn Gravatt, 48, of Harpers Ferry, W.Va.; Richard Gorman, 45, of Chambersburg, Pa.; Jeffrey Kellogg, 46, of Shepherdstown; Adam Lint, 22, of Fayetteville, Pa.; Andy Mason, 34, of Hagerstown; Jared Priest, 25, of Ranson, W.Va.; Jody Shatzer, 47, of Chambersburg; and Timothy Walsh, 45, of Chambersburg.

Andy Mason is assistant sports editor of The Herald-Mail. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2334, or by e-mail at

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