RUN WITH THE COWS! AT FIRST THIS 5K SEEMS TO BE AN EVENT DESIGNED TO CAPTURE ATTENTION with a wacky name, “Running with the Cows”, held in New Era, Michigan. I can’t recall exactly how I happened upon the race notice while online for another reason, but took the bait and clicked on the link to investigate.
Many of you may not know where New Era is located, including those who live in Michigan! It happens to be located in the same county (Oceana) as the village of Pentwater on the Lake Michigan coast, a summer resort town and sailing stop, which more Michiganders would recognize. A portion of the Manistee National Forest also lies in Oceana County, enjoyed by outdoor sports enthusiasts. Otherwise, most would need to check out a map and search Wikipedia; the entry indicates the village is the home of Country Dairy.
And, in that fact lies the explanation of why such a race, in which proceeds support mission projects, exists. The dairy’s owner has worked to establish a research farm and the Gulu Country Dairy Training Facility in East Africa. According to a 2014 MLIVE.com article, Wendell Van Gunst was inspired to assist Ugandan milk farmers following a visit to the” war-torn country”, where because of a civil war, “virtually a whole generation of farmers were killed and dairy farming was lost”. He was working with a charity group at the time.
Other charity organizations have recognized the need and are endeavoring to re-establish dairy farming in East Africa, like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
The article indicates the Van Gunst family initially organized the race in its inaugural year. This year the New Era Reformed Church is identified as the organizer, and the event is being managed by ACTIVE.com. The September 1, 2018, 5th running of the race will begin at the Country Diary Farm Store, continue through a “meandering cow pasture” at the nearby VR Charolais Farm, “while giving runners a beautiful glimpse of New Era.”
“Running with the Cows” isn’t likely to receive national attention by the running industry. However, because it is the type of unique local challenge that Earned Runs loves, you’re reading about it today. Possibly there is a similar run/walk that supports a different charity/cause near your home that’s worth investigating. One in which crowds aren’t likely to be a problem and finish times are not all that important.
As the Fall race season is about to start, it may be possible to show up some weekends on a whim, at the last minute, and enjoy an unusual challenge that can be a conversation starter (“I ran with cows today”), at the very least. At the most, a worthy cause will be supported by your GENEROSITY.
Of course, it’s a good idea to check out non-governmental, non-profit organizations if you plan to donate money. However, if you get a t-shirt and a nice workout out of a short distance event advertised as a fund-raiser, it doesn’t seem as important to establish the group’s credentials in race management* or do a lot of background homework into the financial health of the charity.
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
*This race wasn’t in the BibRave.com database. There a race with the same name in Kansas, in May.
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EARNED RUNS is edited and authored by me, runner and founder. I began participating in road races before 5Ks were common. I've been a dietitian, practiced and taught clinical pathology, and been involved with research that utilized pathology. I am fascinated with understanding the origins of disease as well as health.
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