Ragnar is returning to PA

The scoot chicks love a good Ragnar Relay. You know we do.

Cam, our resident Ragnar expert has tackled numerous relay races around the country. The rest of us simply dreamed of the day we could manage a 12-person, 200-mile relay.

Meri was beyond jazzed to take on the challenge, but her plans and potential teams repeatedly fell through.

Me? I didn’t want to travel far for the race. When my dream Ragnar was discontinued a few years back, promptly ending my interest in participating in a relay….until today.

What changed, you ask? The return of the Pennsylvania Ragnar Relay in June 2017.

You see, this race begins in my hometown of Lancaster, PA. The first leg kicks off in front of my elementary school. It loops through downtown Lancaster, past my former employer and my childhood church, through the park where I attended day camp as a child and attended many an elementary school field trip.

It winds through rural Lancaster County, past Amish farms and through rolling hills of my hometown before heading north, ultimately ending in Mt. Pocono, PA, not far from Hickory Run State Park, one of my favorite PA state parks.

If ever there was a Ragnar made for me, this is it. Sure, I’ll need to figure out what to do with my infant son, how to fund my entry fee and how to coordinate to make this happen, but I know one thing for sure. I will be there as part of team Scootadoot. Who is with me?

Have you run a Ragnar? Which ones and what advice would you offer to a novice like me?

Race recap: hotter than hades at the Bird-in-Hand half marathon


With one word to describe the Bird-in-Hand half marathon, this lone thought keeps topping my list.

It was a warm and muggy morning, with pre-dawn temps well into the 70s. Humidity was 96%. Oof.

IMG_0719An Amish family of runners at the race site

After an insane work week earlier this month, I headed to my hometown to run the rural road race for the second straight year. Lancaster, Pennsylvania is Amish country. Home to many in the Pennsylvania Dutch Amish and Mennonite community. Many in the county’s Amish community love to run and have a growing reputation as strong competitors in running circles. And this annual race is organized by that growing running community.

I drove to PA with my running pal Ray and connected with the lovely Kyle and Christina for our big Saturday morning run – the Bird-in-Hand Half Marathon.

We headed to the race site in rural Lancaster County early Saturday morning amidst the fog and were treated to a stellar sunrise.

IMG_0704Ah, Lancaster

We arrived early so we could all mentally prepare. When Kyle suggested we run intervals together – I immediately agreed. Repeated cycles of five minutes of running and one minute of walking sounded like a brilliant way to tackle this muggy 13.1.

IMG_0722From left: me, Kyle, Christina and Ray

As we prepped to run and lined up at the start, we spotted a few ladies pinning each other’s race bibs on their dresses. That’s right – many of the Amish run in their everyday clothes, including hair coverings. And sneakers.

IMG_0743Let’s race, ladies

Soon enough, it was go time. Kyle and I ran together, and we were thankful to stick to our interval plan. Dozens of people passed us each time we walked those first few miles.

Among them, we repeatedly encountered an Amish man running with his young daughter. We cheered each time we saw them, noting how fantastic their joint venture was.

IMG_0748Seriously, I love this duo.

By mile three, I was drenched. I’m talking soaked to the bone. Kyle and I stopped to walk at least twice each mile.

Around the turnaround at mile five, Kyle waved me on. Her legs were heavy, as she’d run a 20-miler just 6 days prior.

I pushed ahead, passing folks as I ran, then watching them pass me by when it was my time to walk.

The next hour was such a challenge. I was overheated. I wanted to stop, but I didn’t. I stuck to Kyle’s plan, even though I was now running solo. I listened to her voice on my head. I didn’t want to let her down by walking too long, or running too slowly .

IMG_0750Running through the corn(fields)

The race itself was a stunning, but hilly course through the cornfields and farmland in Lancaster. Every mile or so, Amish kids manned water and Gatorade stations, and alerted runners to the beverages in four-part harmony.

Amish and Mennonite families cheered us along, many while also doused us with water from garden hoses and sprinklers.

With the heat and humidity, race organizers added about a dozen huge coolers filled with ice along the route. Each time I spotted one, I grabbed a handful, ate a few cubes and shoved ice down my bra.

I sounded like a maraca as I ran on.

As I ran on I saw lots of horses, cows and goats. There were loads of farms, fields and even a half-dozen one-room schoolhouses and horse-drawn buggies galore.

Around mile 8, I hoofed it up a hill and spotted something out of the ordinary.

IMG_0752um, what?

Am I hallucinating, or is that a pair of camels?

Turns out, I said that out loud as another runner answered, informing me that yes indeedy, camels were hanging out along the side of the road.

I spent the next few miles wondering why. I learned more the following week when I found an article about a camel dairy farm  in the Lancaster paper’s news archives. Did you know you can milk them? Yup. But apparently they are not incredibly willing participants.

By this point of the race, I was passing people left and right. Please don’t get me wrong. I certainly wasn’t speeding. My running time was just a 9-minute-mile pace. I’d just started walking far earlier than most, so I had more in my reserves as we all pressed on. (Thank you Kyle!!)

We cut through a farm on a gravel toad, where I tripped over a cornstalk and nearly landed flat on my face. Somehow I caught myself and moved on. It was along this stretch that cups of Rita’s Water Ice were distributed. So happy! The sugar rush added some pep to my step.

The last miles were tough. I’d been seeing occupied ambulances whiz by and volunteers and medics helping collapsed runners along the course. I was concerned about hydrating properly and making it to the end.

As it turned out, more than 50 of the 1,700 registered runners suffered heat exhaustion. Some even went to the hospital. The high for the day was 91.

I didn’t walk that last mile. I just wanted to finish. When I rounded the final turn onto a grass field and sprinted (eh, as much as I could muster) to the finish, I heard an announcer share finishers ‘ names and hometowns.

I never heard my name, but I couldn’t have cared less. I was done.

I guzzled water and chocolate milk and ate a banana before I tripped over Ray in the field and encountered my mom. A few minutes later, we heard Kyle ‘s name announced as she finished the run.

IMG_0721The hot air balloon launch at the start. This never gets old.

My time was 5 minutes slower than last year, when conditions were far more ideal. But I placed in the top third, compared to last year when I was solidly in the middle.

It wasn’t my best race by far. But I’m so proud of how all three of us fared – each about 15 minutes off our PR paces. But given the conditions, we ran smart and made it through without injuring ourselves. So to us, the race was a success!

IMG_0775We’re done! As Christina said, the race was so brutal we lost a whole human. Not to worry, she finished uninjured!

Despite the sizzling conditions, I love this small-town race and would do it again in a heartbeat. Plus, you get a handcrafted medal made from a horseshoe. I nearly tipped over – again – when an Amish girl placed it around my neck.

These miles marked my first double digit run this month for me toward Scootadoot’s Million Mile Run. And NEWS!  This month, starting today (9/15) at midnight, Volvo is matching funds of donations to Alex’s Lemonade Stand for up to $30,000!

The number 30 is significant because every hour, 30 news cases of cancer affect children under the age of 20 worldwide.

That means any donation given during this period will go TWICE AS FAR!

If you wish to donate, check out our team page – We’ve raised $800 for pediatric cancer halfway through September!

Have you run a race in less-than-ideal conditions? How did you cope? Did you ever not finish due to overheating? Have you heard of this race?

Rural run through Amish country

I went home to rural Lancaster County over the weekend, where I ran one of the most beautiful race courses I’ve yet to see.

Lancaster, Pennsylvania is Amish country. Home to many in the Pennsylvania Dutch Amish and Mennonite community. Many in the county’s Amish community love to run and are quite fast. I am familiar with the Anabaptist community, as I grew up in the area and regularly visit my parents, who still live in Lancaster.

The annual Garden Spot Village Marathon was filled with such runners. Some of the men ran in their plain clothes and women ran in dresses. I also spotted some incredibly speedy Amish kids. It was a pretty impressive sight.

This race was different from any I’d run before. First off, it was on a Saturday morning, this is in part because Sunday is a day of rest for Amish and Old Order Mennonites.

Since I worked a full day before making the five-hour drive south, my mother graciously offered to collect my race packet from the expo in New Holland, Pa. (Thanks, Mom!) Race officials offered packet pickup Saturday morning, for about 90 minutes before the race. I loved knowing this was an option, as did the more than 700 runners who weren’t able to attend the Friday evening expo.

I gathered my race gear Friday evening, including my trusty roller, The Stick. I knew my quads would be sore since I raced a hilly 15K last weekend. I had looked at Garden Spot’s elevation chart — hills were definitely par for the course.


Ready to roll!

Race morning went smoothly. We left the house around 6:30 a.m., arriving at the race site shortly after 7. Parking was a breeze. We were directed to a spot in the grass and waited in our car until 30 minutes before the race was slated to begin, 8 a.m.

In less than 20 minutes, I used a toilet twice, located my friend Wendy and lined up at the start. This is one highly organized, user-friendly race.


Wendy and me at the starting line.

Meet Wendy, a childhood friend who was itching to run her first half-marathon. Together, we selected a race in our hometown as a bit of a homecoming since she moved to South Carolina after high school and I’m in upstate New York. Her older brother Eric and her nephew Nate joined us.

Soon enough, we were off. We lost the guys within 30 seconds. Side note – Nate, 12, won his age group with a time of 1:51. So impressive!

Wendy and I settled in for a much slower pace, we ran out of the village, along East Earl Road, then Stauffer Road. We hit a few small hills as we rounded the corners. And we repeatedly dodged road apples (horse manure) left behind on rural roads.


Beautiful course. Note the woman on the right running in a dress.

We chatted with each other and strangers as we jogged along. We were happy with our pace, even as we took on the hills.


We passed several Amish buggies on the course. We also had a rather large cheering squad of Amish and Mennonite kids, many who sat on their porches and waved to runners. Some sat on blankets and wagons in their yards. All appeared to be excited to see the parade of runners.

Around mile 4, we headed up a rather significant hill that passed by the horse auction. Amish and Mennonite men and women were lined up for the weekly event, barbeque cooking on the old pits. Some horses hitched to buggies and carts appeared to be circling a fenced course, as if they were racing. It was a scene from yesteryear.

Eventually we turned off Hill Road to Steep Hill Road. (I kid about the name, but it would have been appropriate.) We headed downhill past more buggies and fans. And then we hit THE HILL. We knew it existed, but seeing it in person still shocked us.


Heading down the Mentzer Road hill in mile 6.

We slowed WAY down to avoid tumbling. We ran well past mile 7 to the turnaround point and straight into the wind, and ultimately, back up this evil hill.


It may not look incredibly steep, but trust me, it was. 100+ feet straight up just past mile 8, followed by another 100-foot incline back on Steep Hill Road. A cow in a nearby field urged us on: “Mooooo-ve!” I heard.

We huffed. We puffed. But we made it.

We reversed the route, back past the horse auction and downhill (hooray) until the last 5K. We turned off on Overly Grove Road, past a park and more farms and hoofed it into the finish.

Wendy was beginning to fade a bit during that last mile, but considering the hills we had conquered, her movement was impressive. She had not walked once. She pushed forward through the wind and hills. She didn’t quit and we passed several runners that last mile as we moved forward.

Then we turned into the village campus.

“Where’s the finish line? I don’t see it,” Wendy said.

“Ahead,” I promised. “Less than 2 minutes to go. It’s just you and me out for a run. Ignore everyone else.”

About 90 seconds later, we rounded the last bend to the finish line. I spotted my mom as she yelled our names. We sprinted it in, finishing around 2:12. Excellent job Wendy!

We reunited with our families within minutes, grabbed some delicious homemade post-race food.


There is a second Amish Country race in Lancaster County – the Bird-in-Hand half marathon in September. I have a feeling I will be back.

What’s the most beautiful race course you have run? Have you ever run among the Amish?