Although orchards get their fair share of mud throughout the season, Weaver’s Orchard in Morgantown, PA, purposely creates a muddy atmosphere, all to gain foot traffic. Weaver’s Orchard, Inc. will be hosting the second annual Hard To The Core 5K mud run and 1K walk.
Orchard President Ed Weaver’s involvement with the 5K mud run is a personal one. “A friend of mine lost his wife to breast cancer and he started a non-profit organization — OneRunTogether to raise funds to help cancer patients with expenses not covered by insurance,” says Weaver. “As I learned of his new venture I commented that we would have a great place to do a 5K and it would also benefit us by creating more exposure for our business.”
An orchard’s hilly terrain might offer runners plenty of challenges, but hosting a run on a working farm offers a unique set of challenges for Weaver.
“(Hosting) the event was somewhat challenging but mostly organizing it in a way that does not conflict with normal orchard operations as the course is being prepared (ahead) and on the day of the race,” says Weaver. “The muddy areas need to be prepared in advance and were mostly done using a skid loader and filling low areas with water. There were other obstacles as well like large straw bales, apple bins, tires, etc.”
Aside from the running element to Hard To The Core, the folks at Weaver’s Orchard saw hosting the event as a great opportunity to introduce new people to the orchard and its offerings.
“(The 5k mud run) helps area runners learn about the farm and experience it first-hand. This is a market segment that we don’t specifically target other times, but runners are usually active, healthy adults who would be interested in buying local produce,” says Rachel VanDuzer, marketing consultant at Weaver’s Orchard, Inc. “One Run Together helps promote the event specifically to runners through several running websites, sports stores, and publications.”
Weaver agrees, adding the event’s purpose was “No. 1, to raise funds for charity and secondly to expand our customer base, and also to allow people to experience the orchard and develop more appreciation and understanding of the production of fruit.”
VanDuzer said at last year’s event the orchard offered an apple pancake breakfast that was open to the public, and she estimated that 800 to 1,000 people attended the 2012 event, including runners and spectators. For the inaugural event itself, Weaver estimated that there were approximately 380 registered runners.