2,000 runners expected at fundraiser

March 14, 2009|By JENNIFER FITCH

ROUZERVILLE, PA. -- Almost 2,000 runners are expected to cross through Washington Township, Pa., next month during the first American Odyssey Relay in the area.

The Rouzerville Commons shopping center has been established as a checkpoint on the 200-mile relay race from Gettysburg, Pa., to Washington, D.C.

That means volunteers, sponsorships, fire and police services, and correlating activities all must be pre-arranged.

"This is going to be a major event economic-wise for the area," area coordinator Don Baldwin said, explaining teams and their supporters need vans, hotels and other services.

Organizers expect the first runners to arrive in Washington Township on Friday, April 24, about 2:45 p.m. The last runners should enter the checkpoint about 9 p.m.


The course takes 12-member teams from Gettysburg to South Mountain, Pa., in Franklin County. Old Forge Road will take them to Rouzerville Commons, where they will depart the checkpoint and head to Smithsburg and Boonsboro in Washington County. From there, they will cross Antietam National Battlefield in the dark as they make their way to Harpers Ferry, W.Va., and the C&O Canal.

Two teams -- The Gazelles and The Pachyderms -- are representing the Waynesboro, Pa., area in the two-day relay.

"We really believe normal people can be part of this heroic undertaking," said Greg Lyon-Loftus, a local doctor who joined The Pachyderms.

When talking to fellow members of The Rotary Club of Waynesboro last week, Lyon-Loftus encouraged financial contributions and volunteerism in the spirit of understanding the joy discovered when someone becomes more physically fit.

"To me, this is an odyssey," he said. "This is really exciting."

Baldwin said organizers are asking for no more than $100 from each sponsor. They want to ease the burden on individual sponsors and include as many as possible.

Each team will need about $4,000, Baldwin said. Registrations came from 42 states, three foreign countries and 11 military teams, he said.

Event founders expect to host closer to 4,000 runners in 2010.

Profits primarily benefit The Wellness Community, a Washington, D.C.-area cancer support and education program. Baldwin said local charities also stand to benefit from the individual teams.

The Rouzerville Business Association and Blue Ridge Fire & Rescue Squad have been preparing the transition point to host a crowd. They plan to sell food and perhaps host a car show in the Lowe's parking lot.

Volunteers are needed for two- to four-hour shifts, Baldwin said.

For more information on volunteering or donating, call Baldwin at 717-765-4106.

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