Amish Country Half Marathon

Amish Country Half Marathon

Amish Country Half Marathon

( 7 reviews )
100% of reviewers recommend this race
  • Berlin,
    United States
  • November
  • 3 miles/5K, 13.1 miles/Half Marathon, Relay
  • Road Race
  • Event Website

Craig Simpson

Delaware, Ohio, United States
11 47
"Dabber Schpring & Football "Schpass""
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Race Management
Craig Simpson's thoughts:

Amish Words:
schpass = fun
Dabber Schpring = Run Quickly “dop-uh shpring”

As Memorial Day is known as the "unofficial" start to summer, Labor Day is the not-so official end of summer. Funny how it isn't set in stone as summer's end, but the vast majority of us have the day off, creating a long weekend (see, even government folks and employers understand the season's demise needs a bereavement period). This is then followed by a short work week which leads into the first full weekend of both college (week 2) and pro football (week 1).

One of the my most fond memories of this time goes back to the 2003 college football season, Sept. 13th to be exact. This is when defending National Champion and second-ranked Ohio State played host to the 24th ranked Philip Rivers-led North Carolina State Wolfpack in Columbus. My brother, who had recently gotten engaged, some friends and I snagged tickets to this game. And a blast it was, especially sitting in the N.C. State fan section catching good-natured (and not-so good natured) flack from the Wolfpack faithful.

Ohio State with the likes of Michael Jenkins, Chis Gamble, Santonio Holmes, A.J. Hawk, Will Allen, Mike Nugent jumped out front, led most of the way, then watched as Rivers, Jerricho Cotchery and T.A. McLendon staged an epic come back to tie the game at 24 in the last 21 seconds of regulation. If there wasn't trash talking in the stands before, it was amped up about 100 times now.

All of this despite the face my bother's then-boss had planned - and was to host - a huge engagement party for him and (his now wife) Stephanie that afternoon. If memory serves, the party was to start at 4pm - the game started at noon - so we should have plenty of time. As the game wore on, it's slow progress was noticed by even the non-football fans.

Before the end of regulation, my brother was getting calls and texts from Steph - and our sister - about possibly being late to the party. Chad worked on smoothing things over assuring we would be there and not to worry. That's about the time overtime arrived, followed by a second overtime and then, of course, a third overtime. Ohio State won 44-38 in triple overtime, as A.J. Hawk and Will Allen stopped T.A. McLendon inches from the goal line on fourth down. The stadium went nuts, the N.C. State fans were less than joyous, we we reveled in witnessing firsthand an instant classic.

Then reality dropped like a bomb. The game took 4 1/2 hours, we had to rifle through the mass of 100,000 plus fans leaving Ohio Stadium, get to our car, maneuver in and out of the thousands of cars amassed in a traffic nightmare around campus, then make our way north to the Columbus suburb of Powell to join friends, family and acquaintances at a party held specifically for my brother by his boss that we would be well over an hour late for.

On the drive there we talked about the game and how the mass of people who have been waiting on us would react. It made me laugh as I remembered my sister, that morning, jokingly telling me I was responsible for getting my brother to his engagement party on time. There was quite a bit of nervous laughter as we made our way there. The truth is, though, we - or anyone in their right mind - would have never left in the middle of a game of that magnitude. Who is going to look back and say they left at the end of regulation, missing three overtime periods and the ending of one of the greatest college football games of all time with future hall-of-famers taking part?

Anyway, we arrived to a street packed with cars belonging to party-goers and as we walk up the door swings open. There is Steph, with the your-dead-to-me fake smile plastered to her face, staring my brother down like prey about to be destroyed. My sister darts out from behind her and heads straight for me, wearing the same sinister expression, "What did I say to you?! You guys are 90 minutes late!" I shrug my shoulders, but just as I attempt to make some sort of excuse, some other party-goers make their way out the door to greet us and congratulate my brother. I'm saved from my sister's wrath as she doesn't want to make a scene and we go along with the crowd into the house.

The rest of the party went surprising well, except the end part. Late that evening my bother, some of his friends and I may have stripped down to our skivvies and enjoyed his boss' pool as some party-goers watched in amazement (or horror). Yes, my brother did get married (the following December) and, yes, it was to Steph and they have been happily married since and now live in Austin, Texas. Though, from what I understand, the pool party we had at his then boss' house was the beginning of the end of the cordial relationship Chad had with his superior - this comes as no surprise.

It was a long time ago, but the memory of it is quite vivid.

For us, our way of completing Labor Day week was to 'labor' through the Amish Country Half Marathon the following Saturday. Why not take part in a race named for those who seems to "labor" more than the rest of us as part of their culture. The event includes a 10K and a 5K, of which L would be taking part. All three races have been sold out for quite some time.

This description of the race may be one of the reasons for it's popularity, "... the...course is a unique, challenging route unlike most typical races. You’ll experience the gorgeous rolling hills, sprawling Amish countryside, and take in some of Ohio’s most beautiful farmland. Challenge your body and refresh your mind on the back roads of Holmes County, and enjoy hot buttered noodles at the finish!" Now I know those who are good with words can make anything sound exotic or interesting, but to back it up the organizers put together a video of the course to match their description.

Each registered runner would also received a SWAG bag with a variety of Amish made goods. It may also help that the Ribfest and Harvest Festival Parade in downtown Berlin would be taking place at the same time. This, it seemed, would be my heaven...running and food.

With most of August having been relatively mild (as compared to past years) and the first week of September being 90 plus and humid, it was a crazy contrast on this day with a high of 61 (maybe), an overcast sky and constant light rain & drizzle. Nothing like September being a jerk right off the bat. We stayed in nearby Sugarcreek (known as 'The Little Switzerland of Ohio") for the weekend, instead of driving two hours the morning of the race. Sugarcreek is also home to the World's Largest Cuckoo Clock with human size figures moving around, fun stuff!

And a little fun to make the day more interesting, the official race pacers would be an Amish horse and buggy. Local resident Dan Raber and his four-legged companion "Torpedo" (a picture of the two in action can be found below) would lead the field to start the 13.1 mile jaunt. So not only would we be fighting the elements and the topography, we would also have to dodge Torpedo's strategically planted road apples. Due to the perpetual rain, the road apples were more like apple sludge, but only sparsely populated our route.

Standing in the rain and light breeze at the starting line under a blanket of clouds was a bit chilly. L heads to the car to warm up a bit as the 5K portion doesn't start for another 30 minutes.

Suddenly, my Garmin watch screen freezes in place as it attempts to connect and will not budge in anyway shape or form. I can't even turn it off as the count down begins and the start horn sounds. We take off and I have to go without tracking my progress, not a big deal - though it would have been nice.

A group of five drift in front of me as I attempt to keep within myself and moments later three of them are battling way out front. A female, high school kid and I are hanging back with me trailing the other two by 15 yards or so as the rolling hills lined with vast green fields and pastures drift by. My pace feels good and not too fast as the running in the elements helps ease some nerves - being able to focus on something else other than pace. The teen starts to distance himself and I think he may be going to fast, but then the half marathon and 10K split comes, he turns right for the 6.2 portion and it makes more sense. The girl and I turn left where at the two mile mark a long downhill comes. Using my long praying mantis legs, I let the momentum carry me down. I catch and pass the girl as we whiz pass a number of Amish homesteads with the residents loitering out front waving and offering support.

As the we reach level ground again, the girl is just behind me. I reach back with my left hand and second or two goes by before I feel her half-hearted high-five grazes my fingers. A chuckle is followed by a breathy, "Geez, I can't even high-five". She pulls even and we are well behind the leaders with no sound of those trailing. A mile or so later a water stop appears, I speed up in order to drift in front of her to refuel. I can hear her for a few minutes thereafter, then I find myself alone. Picking up the pace a bit, I revel in the colorful topography of Ohio's Amish Country as it is showered with the late summer rainfall. Every so often I glance at my watch and, yup - still frozen in place.

A long, steady uphill begins as the bike leading the second pack falls behind me. I put my head down and concentrate on moving my arms in tune with my legs, kind of like a train wheel affect. Bypassing onlookers and being passed by a few Amish horse & buggies going the opposite direction, I no longer hear the second bike lead. Finally cresting the hill and surrounded by colorful countryside competing with the dark gray atmosphere above, I'm directed to the left and mesh into the back end of the 10k group as the courses merge.

Then comes another long downhill as I, again, let the momentum pull me down swerving in and out of 10k walkers along the narrow hollows lined with with trees and brush. It is comforting to see competitors again. The drizzle increases and it feels good as the half marathoners and 10k group reaches the second split. They go right, the half marathoners go left. A quick refuel and I'm alone again on the out and back portion of the course.

Passing farms, farmers, farmhands and livestock - I finally see the lead group making their way back. Giving each other congratulatory gestures as we pass, I count three in the lead group before coming upon the turn around myself. I stick out my right arm to assist with momentum when reversing course and I have a little over four miles to go. A minute or so later, I begin passing those trailing me - they aren't far behind.

Back along the shared 10K and half marathon finish, I weave through walkers as the final winding, drawn out ascent begins. My legs are worn out and I push to the top with visions of an eventual downhill coming my way. With not much left in the tank, I stick to form as best I can and then a familiar voice rings loud and clear. Having finished her 5K not long ago, L bellows, "You have about a ten second lead on those behind you! Turn the corner," as she points ahead," and you have a little over a quarter mile to go." Out of the corner of my eye, to the right, I can see Grace Mennonite Church - the location of the start/finish line and post race feast.

Turning the corner, I let my moment pull me through the decline to the race shoot - I'm toast. Passing some 10K stragglers, I'm expecting those behind me to blow by any second. Just as I turn towards the finish line at the entrance of the church parking lot one of those chasers passes me, but I'm able to finish just before the girl who had tagged along before is able reel me in. I stick out my hand to grasp a finisher's medal, down a bottle of water, then grab a cup of coffee. It feels cold now as I am soaked, the drizzle continues to fall, the breeze has kicked up and I'm no longer moving.

L arrives with my jacket and we get in line for the complimentary hot Amish buttered noodles and other edibles. The noodles hit the spot and took a bit of the chill off, but not completely. We go back to the car to warm up and await the posting of results. L excitedly tells me she ran her fastest 5K since she started running again, coming in at 28:10. That's about the time my watch suddenly beeps to life. Oh, NOW you want to work - Thanks for nothing.

About 20 minutes later we had back out into the light rain for race details. I end up fifth overall and win my age group with a time of 1:28:37, my reward is an engraved jar glass. Since the weather was less than ideal for some, a number of entrants changed distances at the last minute. This meant the race details of the 5K and 10K would take awhile. We were cold, wet and tired so we left. We discovered later L placed as the fifth female and won her age group and missed out on getting her award.

Back at your hotel, we crashed for a few hours before heading to the Ribfest and Harvest Festival Parade in downtown Berlin for sustenance, then to Millersburg Brewing Company to watch the Ohio State-Rutgers game. L wanted to see the race route for the half, so later on we drove the course then back to our hotel where we crashed watching football the rest of the day as it continued to rain.

At home the next day while unpacking, I found a tie with a nice tie clip attached to it. It wasn't mine, I didn't take it with us, it wasn't in our hotel and for the life of me couldn't figure out how I ended up with it - it just..."appeared". My only thought as that it was on a hook in the large restroom of the church where the race began and ended. I hung my jacket on a bathroom stall door and took it with me when I left, so I'm figuring the tie was on the hook to start with and I unknowingly grabbed it as well when retrieving my jacket.

Now this isn't all that significant except for the fact we returned home early on Sunday morning specifically to watch the Browns-Steelers game. L is a lifelong Steelers fan and I am partial to the Browns, who have NOT LOST a regular season game since Christmas Eve 2016. And what happened on this day? The Browns DID NOT LOSE - well, they didn't WIN either, BUT they "TIED".

Did you read that...they "tie(d)". Yes...a TIE no one was expecting and came out of nowhere - sound familiar?! Like the mysterious "tie" I somehow came into possession of while at a church? I don't know about you, but I think this proves EVERYONE is a football fan and this was a half-hearted apology to Browns' fans for their pain and anguish. By half-hearted, I mean a victory wasn't going to be handed to them - seriously, miracles taking place in Cleveland, never gonna happen. Although, a seven day reprieve from further disappointment would suffice!

Of course Pittsburgh's five turnovers and missed/blocked field goals for both sides contributed to the tie - but nevertheless! A tie is a tie - I will take it.

So, there you go, football has returned, pumpkin & Oktoberfest beers are abound and our garden is producing it's last yields of the season - summer is over folks. Hard to believe, but the Nationwide Children's Hospital Columbus Marathon & 1/2 Marathon is - again - on the October horizon. Though we will still have some hot & muggy weather for a little while and we aren't going to complain.

Because, you know, it is Ohio - the sweater weather will come soon enough...

The Neighbourhood - Sweater Weather

And all I am is a man
I want the world in my hands
I hate the beach
But I stand in California with my toes in the sand
Use the sleeves on my sweater
Lets have an adventure
Head in the clouds but my gravity centered
Touch my neck and I'll touch yours
You in those little high waisted shorts

Oh, she knows what I think about
And what I think about
One love, two mouths
One love, one house
No shirts, no blouse
Just us, you find out
Nothing I really wanna tell you about no
'Cause it's too cold, whoa
For you here
And now, so let me hold, whoa
Both your hands in the holes of my sweater

And if I may just take your breath away
I don't mind if there's not much to say
Sometimes the silence guides your mind
So move to a place so far away
The goosebumps start to race
The minute that my left hand meets your waist
And then I watch your face
Put my finger on your tongue 'cause you love to taste yeah
These hearts adore, everyone the other beat heart is for
Inside this place is warm
Outside it starts to pour

Coming down
One love, two mouths
One love, one house
No shirts, no blouse
Just us, you find out
Nothing I really wanna tell you about, no no no
'Cause it's too cold, whoa
For you here
And now, so let me hold, whoa
Both your hands in the holes of my sweater

'Cause it's too cold, whoa
For you here
And now, so let me hold, whoa
Both your hands in the holes of my sweater

Whoa, whoa, whoa
Whoa, whoa whoa
Whoa, whoa whoa
Whoa, whoa
Whoa, whoa whoa
Whoa, whoa

'Cause it's too cold, whoa
For you here
And now, so let me hold, whoa
Both your hands in the holes of my sweater

It's too cold, whoa
For you here
And now, so let me hold, whoa
Both your hands in the holes of my sweater

It's too cold, it's too cold

The hands of my sweater

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