Thursday, September 29, 2016

Run With the Amish Half Marathon - Getting There

All of my running friends have been raving about this race the last couple of years, so I had no choice but to put it on my race calendar for 2016! I'm a sucker for fun and different races, ones with a different "twist" and that are well-organized and well-supported. So nine months ago I penciled this race in on my calendar, watched the website and their Facebook page for announcement that registration was open, and immediately signed up as soon as registration was open.

A little less obvious was the choice of hotel for the trip. The race itself was being held in the heart of S. Ohio Amish country, where no hotels exist, and where the nearest town with decent hotels was at least 25 miles away. So, doing some research using Google maps, I looked at the options with an eye toward location relative to my driving route to get there from Houston, the race start/finish line, and amenities close to the hotel. 

I settled on the Hampton Inn in Maysville KY. I'm a loyal Hilton Honors member so I'd get points for staying there, plus it had several restaurants within walking distance, a Kroger grocery store next door, and would be a direct shot north into OH to West Union where the race was being held. All big pluses. It was about 25 miles from the race venue - a distance estimated by my Garmin GPS to be a 40 minute drive. So I made my reservations and made my trip plans.

I have learned that, depending on what direction I'm heading to get out of town, it is sometimes easier to leave around noontime and plan to stop for the night 300 or so miles away. In this case, heading northeast on U.S. 59 is definitely one of these situations. There are several hotels to choose from in Texarkana, depending on which hotel loyalty program I have enough points for a free room. This trip it would be the Fairfield Inn, using my Marriott Rewards points to get a free room.

Mike's FJR, with the Givi top case installed. Glad I found a new home for it.

So I left home right after lunch on Wednesday and stayed my first night on the road at Fairfield Inn in Texarkana. The next morning, I hit it hard, getting onto I-30 heading to Little Rock, and then I-40. I'd sold my Givi top case to a fellow motorcycle rider, and we'd made plans to meet up in Brinkley AR, just east of Little Rock to finish the transaction. He has a new Yamaha FJR, and this top case will be the perfect compliment to the side cases. We both got there within minutes of each other, and visited long enough to have cups of coffee and tea, see how the new-to-him top case looked on his FJR, and then we each headed in two different directions....him, toward Russellville for an MTF weekend get-together and me, to continue on to Bowling Green for my next night's stop.

Me and Mike, getting caught up after not seeing each other for a couple of years.

Another free room, this one at the Hampton Inn in Bowling Green using my Hilton Honors loyalty points, and a nice dinner with friend Lynne, who lives in town.

With Lynne at Rooster's in Bowling Green. Visiting over dinner.

The next morning I had a comfortable 1/2 day's drive to Maysville, KY and the Hampton Inn. Before checking in, I drove next door to the Kroger grocery store to buy some bananas and raspberries and a couple of other items to have in the room, then went on over to the hotel and got checked in.

Packet pick-up at Miller's in West Union OH.

I had lunch at the Burger King next door, then made the 25 mile drive to Miller's Bakery and Furniture Store in West Union OH to pick up my race packet and get the "lay of the land" for the next morning. The start/finish line will be at this venue, so I asked about the parking situation for the next morning, since we'd be arriving in the dark. The race director pointed to the field next to the compound and said they'd be moving the horses to make room for us to park. In this very field were two very beautiful mom-foal pairs. I had just taken a photo of them moments earlier.

Two beautiful mom-colt pairs at Miller's in West Union.

On the race event Facebook page, the race director announced that they'd be drawing names to give away some mile marker plaques used the previous year. They looked to be really interesting, so I threw my name into the drawing and lo and behold! I won one of them! Good thing I'm in my car and not on a plane!
The basket-style plaque I won in a drawing of race participants

Photo op at packet pickup

I bought some goodies at the Amish bakery here at Miller's - so many delectables to choose from, and Amish men and women efficiently mixing, kneading, baking!! Then I sat on the very pleasant porch in one of their Adirondack chairs, enjoying the pleasant breeze and eating a freshly baked cookie. I still had an hour to kill before the start of the pasta dinner being put on by the Amish, but I was getting very sleepy and a bit dehydrated, and was definitely feeling road weary after two and half days' drive to get here.
The comfy front porch of Miller's Bakery.

Ultimately, I decided the best thing to do was drive back to the hotel, concentrate on my hydration, get dinner at one of the restaurants near the hotel, and then crash for the night. As much as I wanted to attend the pasta dinner and visit with running friends who were coming in for this race, I knew that it would mean a prolonged evening and driving on a narrow, twisty and dark road 25 miles to get back to the hotel later that night.

So a nice chicken fajita dinner ordered to go at the restaurant next to the hotel and I settled into my room with dinner and a beer and watched some TV before setting the alarm for a 5 AM wake-up and went to bed. It will be an early and long day tomorrow!


  1. Quite the journey just to get to the race. It seems weird to have to stay so far from the race start but you have me intrigued to hear the details now. Congrats on winning the draw for the marker too.

  2. Literally out in the middle of nowhere! Amish farm country, so not a lot of "commercially developed" towns nearby.