Sunday, 13 September 2015

Guest Blogger: "Why I love running in Pennsylvania"

Hi everyone,

I'm absolutely stoked to bring you a guest-blogger today!  This post has been prepared by my good friend Colleen, who tweets at ColleenRunsPA.

About 40 minutes southeast of Hershey Pennsylvania is the town of Bird in Hand where one of my favorite half marathons takes place.  Bird in Hand is a small community with a lot of farms in the middle of Amish country.  Each year the local community puts on the Bird in Hand Half Marathon, 5k and Fireman’s Challenge.  The 5k takes place on Friday night and the half marathon takes place on Saturday morning.  The Fireman’s Challenge is for runners who run both the 5k and half marathon.  The race’s motto is “The joy of running in community”  The entire community comes out to support the race.

The Amish community volunteers and runs the races.  Instead of having a motorcycle lead the races, a horse and buggy leads the race.  For the half marathon they have to switch out mid way through the race because the horse can’t run as fast and as long as the runners.  We run through corn fields and past many Amish and Mennonite farms.  It’s the best way to see parts of Pennsylvania that one would never see driving.  

The entire weekend kicks off with a hot air balloon festival.  There are 7-8 hot air balloons that launch right before the 5k and half marathon.  The 5k runs past a few farms and over a lane past several farms.  It ends in a large field where there is a large tent.  Inside the tent they hold the packet pick up and the pasta/pizza dinner on Friday night.  The dinner is followed by a guest speaker and s’mores in front of a large bone fire.  The next morning the half marathon kicks off with another hot air balloon launch.

I’ve done this race 3 times and the hot air balloon launch never gets old.  It’s beautiful seeing all these balloons taking flight prior to running a half marathon.  The race kicks off and we proceed past local churches and farms.  The water stops are all in front of Amish farms.  The Amish man the water stops and cheer on the runners.  As you run you begin to realize how quiet and peaceful Pennsylvania really is.  Even though you are surrounded by runners it is very peaceful.  I’ve also realized that corn is really tall and I’m really short.  It’s amazing how tall the corn here grows.  One thing they mentioned this year before the race was to be careful because the roads are open and the corn absorbs the sounds of the vehicles.

As I run I also realize I’m a lucky person to live in such a wonderful state.  We have such beauty.  This time of the year Pennsylvania really comes to life like no other time of year.  The temperatures cool, the leaves begin to change colors and the sun shines in a way that it doesn’t shine the rest of the year.  If you ever have the chance to visit take some time to go for a run and take in the beauty of this amazing state.  

I don't know about anyone else, but I've definitely been talked into putting this one on my bucket list!

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