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Chester County Press

Harvest Running Festival: Over the hills and past the cornfields

09/19/2017 01:35PM ● By Richard Gaw
By Richard L. Gaw
Staff Writer

Landenberg resident and fitness coach David Berger started his 4-by-4 at the point where the barns meet the cornfields and topography of 148-acre Fox Chase Farm in Kemblesville last Friday afternoon.
With his dog in the back seat and a visitor in the passenger seat, he accelerated along the rough terrain of what will soon become the start of the Harvest Running Festival, scheduled on Oct. 13 and 14.
Advertised as “A Celebration of Human Potential,” the Oct. 13 X-Country 5K in the Dark, called "The Peck," and the 21K half-marathon race on Oct. 14, called "The Half-Bushel," will benefit both the Land Conservancy for Southern Chester County and the Travis Manion Foundation, which empowers veterans and the families of fallen heroes to develop character in future generations.
The 5K in the Dark will kick off at 6:30 p.m., and runners will be guided along the perimeter of the farm's Geohagen Trail by volunteers who will be carrying tiki torches. Each runner will be required to wear head lamps.
The 21K race will begin at 7:30 a.m. on Oct. 14, and the course, designed by well-known race designer Dick Fitch, will begin at the farm and travel through Franklin and London Britain townships, and include Appleton Road, Elbow Lane, London Tract Road, Indiantown Road, Flint Hill Road, Stricklersville Road, Mt. Olive Road, Cavender Lane and the Geohagen Greenway Trail. 
The 21K will provide runners with the opportunity to participate in the MilesShare, which allows a runner to partner with a teammate by running a half-marathon together, with the final running time determined by scoring the average of the two finish times.
Berger said the idea to host both a road and a trail race was inspired by his entry in the Hyner View Trail Challenge in Hyner, Pa., which sponsors a variety of trail and road races.
“I wanted to create a running festival that celebrated every runner who can run any of these two distances,” he said. “I've been doing trail races and road races for years, and they seem to have a different vibe, because there's a different kind of people who run each race. The post-parties are even different between them, as well. The Hyner Challenge is different, because it draws all types of runners together. I wanted to bring that kind of feel here, in order to merge the trail and the road groups together.”
A barn on the farm property will be used for post-race activities for each race, including beverages from the Kennett Brewing Company and Levante Brewing Company, and food from Roots Natural Kitchen in Newark. Additional sponsors will include Altra Running, the Hockessin Athletic Club, Integrative Health Chiropractic Center, Mudgear, Philadelphia Runner, Rip Roarin Productions and the Yards Brewing Company.
“What I've really learned the most from trail running is the feeling of being one with nature,” Berger said as he maneuvered his vehicle past cornfields and gently rolling hills that will make up parts of both races. “These races will run past so many preserved lands. We will run past Fair Hill at one point, past White Clay Creek, and then near Peacedale Preserve. It's a stunning course.
“To me, running in nature is like running in the House of God, and to give runners the same opportunity is the big goal with these races.”
To learn more about the Harvest Running Festival and to register, visit Entry fees include entrance in the race, a custom-made shirt, and post-race food and beverages.
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email [email protected].