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The hills of Amish Country challenge runners

Runners receive a variety of items for completing the Amish Country Half Marathon including a straw hat and beard.

Dave Mast

Race coordinator Mark Fowler said the Amish Country Half Marathon and 5K are not for just any runner. The challenging hill-laden courses are difficult for even the most seasoned of runners. Throw in the unpredictable late fall weather, coupled with the fact that the races are held the same day as the Ohio State Michigan game on Nov. 25, and you can see why it’s difficult to predict the number of runners who will show up to race.
 
“We get runners from all over,” Fowler said. “And while some say this is the most challenging course they have ever run, others just love it. One year we had a guy from Vermont who found out about the race in Runner’s World magazine. When he crossed the finish line, he yelled out, ‘Best race ever.’”
 
Now in its sixth year, proceeds from the Amish Country Half Marathon and 5K benefit the East Holmes Fire and EMS with the other 50 percent split evenly between the Berlin Main Street Merchants and the Hiland Athletic Booster Club. Last year the race brought in about $20,000.
 
“Some runners avoid this race because they believe they won’t beat their personal record,” Fowler said. “But it’s a lot of fun, and there is a strong sense of community.”
 
Runners enjoy the beauty of Ohio’s Amish Country with a landscape that includes well-groomed Amish farms, livestock, slow-moving horse-drawn buggies and the friendly faces of residents who call Holmes County home. A water stop is available every 2 miles, and according to Fowler, a local Amish couple sets up a table and passes out orange juice to runners between mile marker six and seven.
 
“It was our third year before I even realized this nice couple was doing that,” Fowler said. “It’s nice to see how the community wants to be involved. Our student-athletes participate by volunteering in a variety of ways, and they are very helpful.”
 
Last year Fowler introduced an incentive to garner more interest in the race. Born out of respect for the community, the Amish Country Half Marathon and 5K now presents each runner with a beard and straw hat. The gifts are part of the ongoing attempt to build the image of the race to make it more fun.
 
Mainstays of the race include a Dri-Wick T-shirt for early registrants, blocks of Heini’s Cheese to all runners and of course the beloved piping hot bowl of buttered noodles along with a smorgasbord of other goodies after the race. In addition runners receive a Wendell August Forge finisher’s medal with the top-three finishers in every age group receiving a medal and the top-three finishers in both the Men’s and Women’s Divisions in the Half Marathon winning prize money.
 
The Amish Country Half Marathon gets underway at 8:30 a.m. and the 5K at 9 a.m. Runners can arrive on Saturday, Nov. 25 between 6:30 and 8 a.m. at Hiland High School, 4400 state Route 39, Berlin.
 
Packet pick-up is scheduled the night before on Friday, Nov. 24 from 6:30-8 p.m. at Zinck’s Inn, 4703 state Route 39, Berlin.
 
To sign up for the Amish Country Half Marathon or 5K, learn more about the race or see the course via map or video, visit the website at www.runinamishcountry.com.
 
The sponsor list of businesses for the race include AloNovus Corp., Akron Marathon, Amish Country Insider, Amish Country Soap, Berlin Village Inn, Bellstores Marathon, b-fearless, Boyd & Wurthmann restaurant, Comfort Suites, Creative Warehouse Marketing, Doughty Glen Winery, Farmstead Restaurant, Gospel Bookstore, Guggisberg Swiss Inn, Heini’s Cheese, Holmes County Chamber of Commerce, Holmes County Flea Market, Kaufman’s Bakery, Kaufman Lawn Furniture, Kaufman’s Kountry Accents, Keim Lumber, Killbuck Savings Bank, Miller Septic, Ohio Amish Country, Run In Amish Country, Shearer’s Chips, Sol’s Exchange, Totally Covered Tent Rentals, Troyer’s Country Market, Vertical Runner, Wallhouse Hotel, Walnut Creek Cheese, Wendell August Forge, Yoder Lumber and Zinck’s Family of Inns.
 

Published: November 13, 2017
New Article ID: 2017171109900