Themed races make the run a little less scary for first-timers, organizers say
Racing used to be pretty cut-and-dry.
If you go
What: Hard Cider 5K Run
Where: Hauser Estate Winery, 410 Cashtown Road, Franklin Township
When: 9 a.m., 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. Aug. 22
Swag: Each participant will get a glass of Jack's Hard Cider (or water), a commemorative glass, a T-shirt and a finisher's medal.
You signed up, you wore a bib, and you ran as fast as possible from point A to point B.
Maybe — if you were lucky — you walked away with a medal.
Slowly, though, these races have fallen by the wayside, overshadowed by companies that allow you to "run for your life" from zombie hordes or quench your thirst at beer chugging stations.
There's the traveling Rock 'N' Roll Marathon series — which features live music along the course — and the ever-popular Tough Mudder, an intense obstacle course complete with electric shock, barbed wire and ice-cold water submersion.
Some runners aren't content with the promise of good exercise. They need more — an event, a gimmick.
"After you've run a couple 5Ks, what's the motivation to run a regular course without the bells and whistles?" asked Toni Shaw, operations director for the Littlestown and South Hanover YMCAs.
Shaw, who has had knee replacement surgery, doesn't pound pavement anymore. Instead, she sticks to swimming competitions, which haven't been infiltrated by promises of undead mobs and blacklight glo-parties.
Not yet, at least.
"There's always something to keep you in it," she said. "They want to keep people doing these 5Ks. A lot of them are fundraisers. The more people they can get to come, the more benefits the cause."
Take, for example, the Center for Public Service at Gettysburg College.
Last year, it held a third annual Zombie Run to benefit a Thanksgiving basket drive.
Runners were pelted with multi-colored cornstarch last May during West Manheim Township's first Dash for Color 5K.
Hauser Estate Winery in Franklin Township is about to add another fun run to the mix.
The business, which makes and bottles Jack's Hard Cider on-site, is the largest cidery in Pennsylvania, says Polly Patrono, a member of the family that owns Hauser.
On Aug. 22, 1,600 runners will descend on the 170-acre property for a Hard Cider Run, a 5K with a glass of — you guessed it — Jack's Hard Cider and commemorative glass for each finisher.
"A theme makes things a little less scary," Patrono said. "You have people who aren't runners. If you add a theme, it's more accessible.
The race will be the first ever on vineyard property, Patrono said. Runners will trek through a scenic route of apple trees, a peach orchard and grape vines ripe with ready-to-be-harvested fruit.
"Anyone can run three miles," said Patrono. "You can run and walk, and you're not going to take all day. It's short."
And, for many 5K first-timers, this — or any other themed race — might be the start of a beautiful relationship with running.
"I just don't know about the bar stop ones, though," Shaw said. "They have ones where you stop at a bar, drink a beer, and go to the next bar. For healthy living, I don't know if that's quite the one I'd recommend."