A marathoner says he was fined $100 for running in Valley Forge National Historical Park during the government shutdown.
John Bell, a 56-year-old realtor, said he parked his car on Sunday in a remote parking lot, not one blocked by a barrier.
Bell, of Chadds Ford, has competed in a marathon on every continent of the world, but one of his favorite places to run is Valley Forge.
“From a safety standpoint, I like running down there, along with the scenery,” he says.
But on Sunday, Bells says there were two rangers waiting with their car lights flashing when he returned. They slapped him with the $100 citation.
While Bell says he knew that national landmarks were closed, he didn’t realize Valley Forge would be affected.
“I’m not putting together that [the park is] closed. Even if it was, I’d be thinking, ‘Oh, they’re just closing the visitor center,’” he explains.
Bell says he saw many other runners and bikers in the park, and he plans to fight the ticket in federal court, along with his lawyer, Jeremy Ibrahim.
“Washington may have shut down the government, but due process is not shut down,” Ibrahim agrees.
He finds it ironic that one of the disagreements in Congress is the Affordable Care Act, “Yet we tell folks that we should all be healthy, we all should go online and sign up. He goes outside, does some running and gets a ticket for it,” Ibrahim says.
Meanwhile, Bell says he has received many calls and emails from other runners expressing their support, including a cyclist who heard his story.
“I believe he should fight it; it’s kind of a ridiculous scenario. Maybe the judge or whoever is in charge will see he was just using the land his tax dollars paid for,” Mike Festa, the cyclist, says.