While perusing possible races for a trip to Michigan, I came across the 13.Wine Half Marathon. As someone who enjoys wine, the thought of earning this magnet made this race a strong contender for our Michigan race.
As I read about the route that traveled through vineyards and past wineries and the post-race event that included wine tasting, I was completely sold on the race. Further investigation revealed that the race benefited the Therapeutic Equestrian Center. Being a therapist, the mother of two equestrian daughters, and the “mom” to our girls’ two ponies that live on our farm, I easily convinced Mike that this had to be the race we ran in Michigan.
After completing the Tour de La Porte 5K in Indiana we headed to Michigan…which was a mere 20 minutes away. Our first stop was in New Buffalo which is a lakeside resort town. There are huge marinas with huge boats and a huge beach. The town was hopping!
Since we were starving and ready to celebrate our morning accomplishment finding a spot for lunch and a beer was our top priority. The Stray Dog Bar and Grill looked inviting so we ventured in.
Our waitress was attentive and solved my indecisiveness about which beer to order by bringing a few beers to taste before we made our selections. Our choices ended up being perfect and we/I loved the glassware so much that we wandered over to the gift shop after lunch to purchase a few items to add to our collection. Lunch was great, too.
The restaurant is adorned with scads of vintage and current photos of dogs and their owners. They were everywhere! We loved it!
After lunch we strolled towards the beach, past the vast marina that was teaming with a myriad of vessels heading to and returning from Lake Michigan. After a brief photo op we decided to head toward our next destination of the day, The Lakeside Inn
The Lakeside Inn is a National and State of Michigan registered historic site. It is nestled among residential homes on a quiet, wooded road. The inn was charmingly quaint without some modern conveniences- such as elevators.
After settling in briefly, we drove to the “Party on the Pavers” in Baroda (where the race begins) to pick up our packets and shirts. The heat was still staggering but we ventured on.
The Party featured live music, food, and a multitude of wineries (and at least one brewery) offering samples of their beverages. Sadly, we were in our self-imposed day-before-a-race-one-drink-limit mode so we regretfully left thirsty. We did, however, pick up our spiffy shirts, purchase my coveted magnet, and nab a bouquet of sunflowers that I couldn’t resist. Despite the searing heat, this looked like an event that we could have happily immersed ourselves in. But after slipping into a blissfully air conditioned corner market for a bottle of iced tea, we headed back to the inn.
The Lakeside Inn has a private beach on Lake Michigan just across the street (and down a long stairway) from the inn.
Being use to the Atlantic Ocean beaches in Maine, I sometimes forgot that we were beside a lake….a Great Lake, but still a lake.
The next morning we rose early and headed to Baroda for the 13.Wine Half Marathon. It was cool and misty which, once again, was a welcome change from the heat of the previous day. As we waited in the open field for the race to start we were greeted by several fellow runners who readily struck up a conversation with us. The race began while it was still cool and misty-something that resulted in virtual unanimous gratitude from the racers.
The course started out down hill along a quiet country road. In about a mile we turned and traveled up a moderate incline. Once we turned at the top of that hill we were running beside fields and fields of grapes, corn, and soybeans dotted with peach and apple orchards.
Note-these photos of the route were taken the day after the race when we retraced our steps with a camera and car.
Running through this scenery was enthralling and provided a welcome distraction as we contentedly ticked off the miles at a respectable pace. We welcomed the diversion of a conversation with a fellow runner as we neared mile 9. However, it was at about that point where I began to falter. My ever gallant husband did not desert me but continued to encourage me as we traveled the last few miles. We were able to finish within our goal time (which during the heat of the previous day we had temporarily adjusted to “just doing it”) and once again basked in the satisfaction of completing another race.
The post race party included liberal wine and beer sampling in our classy glasses.
The offerings were consistently delicious. A woman who had run near us for most of the race introduced us out to her companion as “the couple that crossed the finish line holding hands”. We explained why we were in Michigan and they, Ron and Lori, offered a myriad of top-notch suggestions for our upcoming, as yet unplanned, travels for the next two days. We became so immersed in our conversation with them that we didn’t notice that most runners were departing. On our way out I couldn’t resist hearing more about the Therapeutic Equestrian Center from a volunteer with the program. We left the 13.Wine Half Marathon bouyed by the fact we had just completed the race in our 18th state and knowing that our entry fees had supported a program that we were confident would make a significant impact on numerous people’s lives.
Now that the race was over, we were anxious to visit some of the wineries that we had run past. After a quick shower and change back at the inn, we returned to Baroda for lunch at the Round Barn Public House. We savored our lunch and wine and beer with that incredibly satisfying post-race “high”.
The Round Barn Winery was our first winery stop. There was some sort of festival in full swing when we arrived which only added to our celebratory state of mind.
Six 1 ounce samples following wine at lunch and a 13.1 mile run convinced me that there was no need for additional winery tours right away. The thought of lounging on the beach sounded idyllic so we returned to the Lakeside Inn for reading, relaxing, and swimming.
We capped off our day with a delicious dinner at the Red Arrow Road House which was virtually around the corner from the Lakeside Inn. The atmosphere was casual and lively-the perfect place to celebrate the completion of our 18th state race.
Look for more about our travels in Michigan in an upcoming post.
Quest Race Number- 18
The Bottom Line: The 13.Wine Half Marathon was a fabulous race! The course was idyllic -a tad hilly in a few spots but quiet, beautiful, and inspiring (keep running and there is wine at the finish line). The t-shirts, medals, and wine glasses were a welcome bonus. The race was impeccably organized and run. The people we met were unfailingly outgoing and welcoming. And…you can’t beat this really cool magnet.