One of the hills on the Farmland 5K course. Looking forward to my first European-style cross country race this weekend.

Of all the things to like about this weekend’s inaugural Farmland 5K European Style XC Challenge–it’s an impressive list, by the way, thanks to event director/founder Lisa Taylor and main sponsor Excel Physical Therapy of Traverse City–I’m most excited about its celebration of the hardiness of northern Michigan runners.

I’ve talked a lot about my love of running throughout all four seasons here in our beautiful state, and also shared just how much I like running in colder weather. I even recently wrote about making the most of winter running for Another Mother Runner. So, that Lisa is just as enthusiastic about “embracing winter’s beauty” as I am gets me pretty stoked about this new up north race. Lisa, who many of you know is a friend and running coach who helped me BQ at my first marathon, kindly gave me a tour of the race course a few weeks back. Located behind Courtade Elementary School just outside Traverse City, this dedicated cross country running course winds through the Rasho Farm property. Expect rolling hills and wooded trails. It’s serene; a great running experience. It’s a race Lisa created to introduce runners of all ages to the venue of a cross country-style race, which has it’s origins in Europe where “hares and hounds” foot races were held from farm to farm.

I’m happy to announce that I have two race entries for this Dec. 1 event to give away to my readers. More details later in this post, but first, here’s what you need to know about the Farmland 5K:

Mild weather…or not: As of today, Saturday’s weather calls for a high of 50 degrees and a 30 percent chance of showers. But this is Michigan, so who knows? We could also get the usual early-December snow or sleet, wind and overcast skies. And that would be just fine–great even! The day Lisa and I walked the course with her two Golden Retrievers we fought high winds and sleet. It was biting cold. But also invigorating. Whatever the weather, a race in early December in northern Michigan is sure to be an adventure.

Awesome swag, food & post-race entertainment: I’m looking forward to the technical winter training hat. There’s also prizes for top team finishers and clever costumes (categories: Most Scantily Clad, True Farmer, Most European and Best 1800s Harrier). A post-race tailgate party features music, bonfires and tasty local food and drink–hot cocoa, whole grain bread, steaming cups of chili and corn chowder. Yum. Oh, and free parking. And tailgate tickets for your family and friends out there supporting you are just $5.

Local all the way: The race supports the Taste of Local Difference campaign promoted by the Michigan Land Use Institute. What this means: $2 from each race entry goes to the Make a Pledge to Spend $10 program. Cherry Republic–a race sponsor–got  involved with the event to encourage support of local farmers, and is an advocate of the Spend $10 program which supports the concept of buying local farm foods to positively impact the local farms economy.

Family-friendly: I’ll be running this race with Joe and Andrew, our 10-year-old. Emma, 12, and Alex, 7, will be cheering us on. I know several friends who are running this as a family, or will be there cheering on their children. The good news is that there’s family pricing, which applies to immediate family members and includes reduced rates from the $30 individual pre-registered rate.  All entries include the post-race party with food and music. Family rates: $57 for 2; $81 for 3; $102 for 4; $120 for 5; and $135 for 6. Note that Family pricing is available with early registration online only.

Make a weekend of it: Friday marks the official start to downtown Traverse City’s holiday shopping season, with Santa’s arrival, tree lighting and holiday open house all taking place. Whether you live in the area or are visiting, there’s plenty to do before and after the race, which starts at noon Saturday. Lisa has lined up special rates for nearby lodging, too–Timber Ridge Resort of Traverse City, located two miles from the race start, will offer discounts on parkhomes and cottages for registered participants.

OK, giveaway details: I’ll select two readers at random to receive free entry to this race. To enter, please share in the comment section below why you’d like to run this race. I’ll close the giveaway at 5 p.m. EST tomorrow, Tuesday Nov. 27 and announce the winner later that night on the Michigan Runner Girl Facebook page.  

Online registration for this race is $30 until Thursday, Nov. 29 at noon. There will be no day of registration, but for $5 more you can sign up in person from 4 to 8 p.m. Friday, Nov.  30 at Running Fit in downtown Traverse City. Race number pick-up is also from 4 to 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 30 at Running Fit, and from 10 to 11 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 1 at the race start at 901 Rasho Rd., Traverse City MI. Family pricing is available with early registration online only. 

Learn more about about the Farmland 5K at the race web site. Updates (and video of the course!) also can be found at the Farmland 5K Facebook page.

Looking forward to reading your comments and giving away these two entries! And if you’ve already signed on for the race, let us know why you decided to sign on–the cold weather, the farmland course, the delicious post-race food…? See you all there!



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