Vella Shpringa

at the beginning of the year, i sat down and mapped out all of the major road races i wanted/planned to do in 2012. austin half, check. broad street run in may, the rock ‘n roll philadelphia half in september, and the philadelphia half marathon in november. along the way there will be 5ks and 10ks and whatever sounds fun, but those are the distance runs i had planned.

until yesterday, when i was tearing through my newest issue of runner’s world, and read a fascinating article by one of my running heroes about something that is happening in my own backyard (okay, well, an hour away).

the article details the somewhat unknown running culture in the amish and mennonite communities in near-to-me lancaster, pennsylvania. thinking of the the amish, well known for their practice of eschewing modern conveniences, electricity, and even modern farming equipment, i never thought of them being particularly fond of running. but after reading bart’s story, it’s clear that they are a very active people who are running for the love of running. and they are GOOD.

in 2010, a number of amish, mennonite, and English runners in the greater lancaster community created a running weekend festival, where everyone could share in this love of running, including tourists and locals alike.

so thanks to bart yasso and his fascinating story, i’ll be running the Bird-in-Hand half marathon this september (instead of rock ‘n roll philly). i could NOT be more excited!

my connection with lancaster dates back to when i was something like 4 or 5 years old (mom, feel free to chime in). my mother is forever obsessed with the amish and their food, so we frequently took family trips down to lancaster county to feast at their family restaurants, shop at the farmer’s market and roadside stands, go to dutch wonderland, and visit amish museums. whenever a road trip would take us even nearby, we always stopped in at least for a day to buy some shoefly pie or jam or apple butter. i knew early on how to tell the difference between an amish home and a mennonite home, and learned to respect this reverent community.

(fyi, the title of this post loosely translates to “let’s run.”)

the race is six long months away, and i already cannot wait. i am so excited to take part in something so unique and culturally rich. i love that i will be supporting a small race like this one, instead of a large corporate race series (though i hear RnRs are fun…i’ll do one someday). i called my mom last night to tell her about it, and i didn’t even have to convince her to come down and make a weekend out of it with me. we’ll both be running the 5k on friday evening, attending the amish pasta and pizza party and bonfire + s’mores party, and i’ll run the half marathon on saturday. everything—the “expo,” pasta dinner, bonfire, and HM start all take place in one location, under one tent. everyone gathers together to mingle (last year, there were 600 participants between both races).

i am just so giddy. i know this is going to be positively amazing. i can’t wait to run in the beautiful lancaster countryside, with pace buggies(!!!) and amish kiddies handing out water along the way. i am so glad i read the story (to be honest, i usually skim the loooong articles in RW) and decided to check it out for myself.

anyone else want to join?!


4 thoughts on “Vella Shpringa

  1. I CAN’T WAIT! What’s better than a run through beautiful Lancaster County!! So excited!

    Then we’ll have to go to Good and Plenty and pig out on fried chicken. Just sayin.

  2. I just finished reading the Old Amish Runners article in the latest Runners World, and when I looked up “Vella Shpringa,” I found your blog. About 40-years ago I was in a Sunday running group,in Allentown, PA, and Bart Yasso was considered a “rabbit,” just about the fastest runner I’d ever seen (I was one of the fatties at the end of the group running an 8 or 9 minute average.

    Right now I stick to the runs with an over-70 category so that I have some chance of getting a runner-up award, but it’s wonderful that you can participate in what should be a truly fun run.

    You were fortunate to have parents that reached out beyond their culture to provide you with such wonderful inspiration. Good luck in the run!


  3. I’ll be running a real ‘Vella Shpringa’ tomorrow night in Bird In Hand under the moonlight! Loved the BIH Half!

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