Running, friends and wine seemed like a natural fit, so six years ago, a small group banded together to create the Running Between the Vines race. The event has been flourishing ever since.
You’d probably be surprised how many races are actually held in or around vineyards – and for good reason. The scenery as you run is fantastic and the topography is likely to change throughout the miles. Plus, it can be very relaxing to run among the vines and all the sights, sounds and smells that a vineyard has to offer.
Winter is a great time to train for the upcoming races. Depending on the weather and road/sidewalk conditions, you can train either indoors or out. Running is often said to clear the mind and can be a great stress reliever year round.
Running Between the Vines takes place in the stunning landscape and wilderness of the Waterloo Recreation Area, said Anna Przybylski, director of events and marketing at RF Events. Its venue is Sandhill Crane Vineyards.
“The Half Marathon takes runners from the vineyard to rolling dirt back roads shaded by a tunnel of trees. The 5-mile route shares the beginning and end of the beautiful Half Marathon, and enjoys the rolling dirt roads,” she said in an email. “The 5K is a dash through a beautiful gated community. Participants receive a custom t-shirt, and finishers receive a custom medal that has been a coaster and a wine bottle stopper, tasting tickets and a custom Running Between the Vines wine glass.”
At Running Between the Vines, the finish is through the vines and a beautiful garden on the vineyard property. This makes for amazing photo opportunities with the vines, said Przybylski.
Each year the race has attracted more than 1,600 participants in a 5K, 5 Mile or Half Marathon categories. It is part of a three-race series called the Thirsty 3, a running tour to three beer, wine and hard cider properties in Michigan.
“Runners can participate in both the 5M and the 5K to complete the Cellar Slam. Cellar Slam finishers receive a custom carafe in addition to all of their other swag,” she said.
After the race, runners and spectators alike are invited to the post-race party where there is live music, wine tastings and food pairings. Sandhill Crane offers tastings or glasses/bottles for purchase and there are samples of local cheeses, meats, hummus, breads and more.
All of the post-race food pairings come from local Michigan vendors, including Zingerman’s Bakehouse breads, Zingerman’s Creamery cheeses, homemade meatballs and breadsticks from Aleko’s of South Lyon and homemade hummus from Jerusalem Garden of Ann Arbor. Mindo Chocolate makers are also on site for chocolate tastings.
Next year, Running between the Vines will be held on Aug. 15. Registration will open on or before Dec. 1. Przybylski recommends registering as early as possible since prices go up gradually beginning in December.
The Michigan 13.Wine Half Marathon & 5K started in 2012 as a half marathon. The 5K was added in 2013. The course is a road course that passes four wineries (two twice) for a total of six and the route is lined with grape vineyards and fruit orchards, said Brad Krugler and Toni Golab, race directors for the Michigan 13.Wine Half Marathon & 5K, in an email.
“We (the race directors) are runners and we strive to pamper the participants. All half marathon and 5K participants receive a shirt, custom wine glass and finisher medal,” they said.
The race benefits several local groups and charities including: My Team Triumph, TEC (Therapeutic Equestrian Center), Girl Scout Cadette Troops 30527, 00127 and 00534 and Lakeshore High School pom pon squad.
In 2019, participants from 38 states attended. In the past, there have been runners from Canada and Australia.
“In the past we started and finished in essentially an open field but that will change in 2020. A business park is in development which will enable us to offer additional spectator friendly amenities. New for 2019 was packet pickup at Red Top Winery and we will continue with packet pick up at Red Top or Gravity Winery,” said the race directors.
The next Michigan 13.Wine Half Marathon & 5K will be Aug. 16, 2020 in Baroda.
Whether you’re an experienced runner or one starting out, a race through or around a vineyard is an excellent racing opportunity that is sure to be a memorable experience.
Post time: Mar-21-2020