I grew up in Lancaster County, so I really enjoyed taking my Apex friends to my old stomping ground. We had a lovely girls weekend that involved staying at an Airbnb farmhouse, Central Market, and a post-race night in Philly for the Lady Gaga concert. I was a crazy combination of my past and my present, but I loved seeing the area through my friends’ eyes.
The race is a fundraiser for the local fire department and it’s heavily supported by the Amish community, which makes it very unique race. Packet pick-up is in what looks like a wedding tent in the middle of a field. There were no crowds to fight, so packet pick-up was easy and I even picked up my sister’s bib – no questions asked. There weren’t many vendors at the “expo” short of the folks selling donuts and Whoopie Pies (totally worth it though!).
A crisp, cool fall morning for the run was a welcome change from the heat and humidity that we were accustomed to. Hot air balloons launched, hymns were sung, and the race was off. I jumped in with a pace group led by an Amish man dressed in full Amish attire – except for the HOKAs. There were quite a few Amish men and women running the race in pants with suspenders or their dress and apron. It was fascinating, but not surprising. Many Amish are pretty into running and do the full moon runs at night. Joining them is on my bucket list – surely I can leverage my Anabaptist roots to find a connection one day, right??. Anyway, I ran this 13.1 as part of a 16 mile long run for Chicago Marathon training, so I kept running even after I crossed the finish line. I didn’t taper leading up to this race, so I was just out there to have fun and see what I could do. The course took us through rolling hills in farm country, past all sorts of animals (even camels) and their excrement on the road (aka “road apples”). There was one gravel road and a short stretch on grass through a cornfield, which threw us all off a bit, but otherwise we all enjoyed the course. Given the insane amount of mileage my coach had me run the week prior to this race, including Yasso 800’s, I was pleased with my performance. And, when I passed a Mennonite group singing “How Great Thou Art” toward the end of the race, I smiled and enjoyed that precious moment – a collision of my past and present.
Runner’s World has ranked this as a top half marathon race. Check it out for yourself, but be sure to sign up early! With only 1700 participants, the race sells out several months in advance each year.