On Saturday, Nov. 24 at 9 a.m. competitors will take off in the first annual Berlin Amish Country Half Marathon and 5k Race. The most unique factor about this event is the setting. The 5k and half marathon are both run on township and country roads of Ohio's Amish Country.
Mark Fowler, marketing director for Zinck's Inn in Berlin, has expressed his enthusiasm for the uniqueness of this race.
"We have such a catch for this event," Fowler said. "We don't have to build a festival to have a race, we already have what we need. There are so many options to choose from...people can go anywhere to race, they don't always have this option."
Runners, their family, their friends, other visitors and local community members will be welcomed into Berlin starting Friday, Nov. 23. At that time Zinck's Inn will host an expo for the runners to come and pick up their numbers and their packet of information. Packets will include material from sponsors and everything they'll need to know for the event.
All registration for the race is done online. Along with the opportunity, the runners and their family are also given a Thanksgiving meal at one of the three local restaurants in downtown Berlin: Cindy's Diner, Farmstead Restaurant and Boyd & Wurthmann Restaurant. They can decide to eat Friday or Saturday. Fowler, along with many others who are organizing this event, is striving to provide traditional Amish specialties; another unique quality to this event.
Fowler said that a large percentage of the downtown and local community have participated in making the Berlin Amish Country Half Marathon and 5k Race a success.
The race will begin at Perry Reese and finish on the Hiland High School track, with an elevation gain in the last four miles. Along the half marathon course, runners will pass 30 Amish businesses.
Fowler is anticipating 250 runners; however wouldn't be surprised if there were many more than that.
"The half marathon in Canton for Hartville has reached 4,000 runners over three years," Fowler said. "That makes me a little nervous because we definitely couldn't handle that many at this time."
Friday, Nov. 23 is the last day participants can register. For prices and more information visit www.runinamishcountry.com.
The event began to manifest itself after Alan Zinck, owner of Zinck's Inn, starting mentioning the idea. According to Fowler, Mr. Zinck is a runner himself, participating in marathons. Primarily he was looking for a way to extend the tourism season, but also knew that there wasn't a race during this time of year available in the area.
"I think the one thing Holmes County has been able to prove is that when we do an event we do it right," Fowler said. "Our area will benefit from this. I also think this will help us reach a new demographic. We have been looking for a way to bring the younger generations to Holmes County; this will give them a chance to see what mom and dad have been talking about...that we are a destination."
Three of the water stations are located at Amish schools, yet another quality that makes this half marathon event unique. Fowler also emphasizes not just the beauty, but the way of life that runners will witness along their journey.
"I know how Amish families love an event," Fowler said. "I definitely see this as one they will want to gather and experience."
Two important items that Fowler wanted to address was the deadline for sponsorship, Nov. 1, and volunteer opportunities. Fowler urges sponsors to have their information turned in by Nov. 1 so the team of helpers can have the packets organized and ready to hand out on the day of the event. Also, Fowler expressed that anyone who would be interested in volunteering with the preparation and coordination for that day may contact him at (330) 466-2705.
Proceeds for the 2012 Berlin Amish Country Half Marathon and 5k will go to East Holmes Fire Department and Berlin Main Street Merchants. For more information contact Mark Fowler, (330) 466-2705 or visit www.runinamishcountry.com.