WILLIAMSON — The Hatfield-McCoy marathon has earned these distinctions; The Weather Channel’s “15 toughest marathons in the world,” Red Bull’s “8 finisher medals you need in your collection,” Runner’s World Magazine’s “Bucket List: 10 fun marathons,” and Road Runners Club of America’s “2016 Kentucky State Championship races.”
Since the marathons arrival in 2000, the marathon has lapped the “runners buzz” circuits a couple of times. Runners from all walks of life have traveled to the lush green valleys tucked far back in the Appalachian Mountains for a chance to race in both Kentucky and West Virginia, or maybe just to take a glance at the locals and see if they are as bad as the tall tales they boast. Either reason, they are welcomed humbly by the small mining community of Williamson, W.Va.
This year the race will feature one runner who heard about the event on the internet and felt he couldn’t pass it up. Jason Boschan has raced in all seven continents on this great planet, and with each race he brings more than luggage; he brings a purpose. Jason is the founder of the “run4papa” organization based out of Charlotte, N.C. The organization began to brew in Jason’s heart as he witnessed his grandfather battle with dementia. Jason was motivated to run the 2010 New York City Marathon in honor of his grandfather, During the race, Jason came up with the fundraising concept that eventually evolved into “Run for Dementia.”
“I came across this race online and I was reading so many good reviews. I contacted the race directors and I was really intrigued about the fact that the race takes place in two states. I am running the double-half marathon, and I thought that it was such an innovative idea to have that mental break in the middle which is something I have never done before. I have ran half marathons and full marathons but this will be my first double-half marathon,” said Boschan.
The race begins in Williamson, W.Va. and continues through Hardy and Buskirk, Ky. to end the half marathon in historic downtown Matewan, W.Va. The race continues through Sprigg, W.Va. and through Aflex, Ky. to end on Second Avenue in downtown Williamson for the full marathon.
“I have never been to West Virginia or Kentucky, this race was a no-brainer for me. The more I found out about the race the more amazing I thought it would be to run through an area with so much history. I wanted the opportunity to spend the weekend and meet the people, and take full advantage of such a great opportunity,” said Boschan.
Boschan has run a lot of races across this world including, a marathon on The Great Wall of China, The Rio Marathon in South America, The Antarctic Marathon, the Big 5 Marathon in Africa, the Outback Marathon in Australia, and he has run the Boston Marathon twice. The reason for Jason running the Boston Marathon twice was because of the bombings in 2013, he was .4 miles away from the finish line when the bomb went off. “It was really unclear at the time of what was going on, we didn’t know why they were holding everyone back from finishing,” said Boschan. He returned in 2014 to finish the race.
Jason began his journey of “running for dementia” after his grandfather was diagnosed with Alzhiemers in 2010. In 2011 he decided to run the New York City Marathon in an effort to get out there and be active. During the NYC Marathon he came up with the idea of “run4papa.” His initial idea was to run a one year campaign to help bring awareness to Alziemers, but it snowballed into a cause when he decided to run at the Great Wall of China where he met many people who were involved in the media, medical, fundraising, and sporting fields that helped the idea along its way.
The most important thing Jason would like to inform the public about is an area of questions that he has encountered a lot along his journey. All of Boschan’s trips are self funded, all of the proceeds accumulated by the organization are sent to the Northwestern University’s Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer’s Disease Center (CNADC) for Alzheimer’s research.
Anyone who would like to support Boschan’s cause to promote awareness to dementia can visit his website: www.run4papa.com. You can donate or you can write “run4papa” visibly on your body during the race to help do your part to help promote awareness.
Boschan said, “I’m really excited to come to this part of the U.S., I am proud to represent the 700 runners who have signed up already, I’m sure there will be more to come. Most importantly, I am proud to share my passion for dementia research with the people involved. Often when I am at other races, I am approached by other people who can relate to losing someone to dementia; there are a lot of different faces to this cause and I enjoy meeting and sharing with every single one of them.”
On June, 11 Jason will make the five hour drive from Charlotte, N.C. to the home of the Hatfield and McCoys to take part in an ongoing tradition that showcases the beauty and fighting spirit owned by our hidden community.
(William Plaster is the sports reporter for the Williamson Daily News, he can be reached at 304-235-4242 ext. 2274 or at [email protected] or on twitter @sidplaster)