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Rural hospitality reigns at 10th annual Running with the Cows 5K/half-marathon

From left, Leaven production manager Todd Habiger, 9-year-old Joni Herrmann and veteran runner Sara Moxley make their way to the finish line at the 10th annual Running with the Cows 5K/half-marathon. LEAVEN PHOTO BY LORI WOOD HABIGER

by Todd Habiger

BUCYRUS — I never thought I would be “Running with the Cows,” yet here I was, making my way through the beautiful landscape of Bucyrus on a wet May 11 morning, competing in my first 5K run.

Running with the Cows is a major fundraiser for Queen of the Holy Rosary School, Wea, and has a reputation as one of the best and most enjoyable 5K/half-marathon races in the area. 

This is the tenth year of Running with the Cows. It’s gone from 800 runners its first year to more than 2,300 this year. And it is a well-oiled machine. A cast of 400 volunteers help make it so.

I couldn’t have chosen a better race to start with. Although Running with the Cows has become a huge event, it still holds its rural charms.

“That’s intentional,” said Gwen Schreiner, one of the race directors. “We wanted to be sure we stood out from all the other races. That isn’t a stretch for us because that’s who the Holy Rosary community is.”

 “The biggest focus we’ve always had has been on customer service. We just want to make people happy and spread God’s joy — always with a smile on our face,” she continued. “Always with love. We try to do everything with love and to glorify God.”

The race for me was a challenge to myself. I’m not a runner. Never have been. I had never run more than a mile since high school. Yet at age 49, I decided this was something I wanted to do.

I approached an old friend, Sara Moxley, about running with me. Sara is a veteran of 5Ks and someone I felt I could lean on for advice and encouragement. And she was great in that mentoring role. 

Sara had mentioned in the past how fun Running with the Cows was. To my mind, the fact that it helped support the parish school made it the perfect race for me. 

Schreiner said that although Running with the Cows started out as a fundraiser, it has evolved into something more.

“It turned into an opportunity to tell the world who the Wea community is and give them a little slice of what it’s like to be a part of our community,” she said. “The whole community is vested in the success of this event. We really want to make a good impression on everybody.”

As I approached the finish line, a sense of pride and accomplishment spread throughout my body. I had done it. Me — a man approaching 50 who had never run a distance race in his life had just completed a 5K run in 33 minutes and 30 seconds.

I immediately gave a big hug to Sara who ran with me every step of the way. I then found my wife Lori and my children — Paige and Connor — who came out in the early morning hours to support their old man. Having them there meant the world to me.  

 “We hope everyone leaves happy,” Schreiner said. “We hope their last impression is positive.”

For me, that was definitely the case. This was the culmination of months of hard work and sacrifice but also, at the end, extreme satisfaction. Running with the Cows left such a positive mark on me I can’t wait to do it again. In the words of Arnold Schwarzenegger: “I’ll be back!”

About the author

Todd Habiger

Todd has been the production manager for The Leaven since 1995. Under his direction The Leaven has won multiple design awards from the Catholic Press Association. Prior to working at The Leaven, Todd was an award-winning writer for The Catholic Key newspaper in Kansas City, Mo. Todd is married to Lori Wood Habiger, a former Leaven employee herself. They have two children — Paige and Connor, and one dog — Joli.

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