Chances are, every runner has fielded questions about their sanity when lacing up during the Michigan winter. Yes, ice and snow are hazards to our footing and visibility. Short days require reflective items and a headlamp in our gear kits. Heading out when others are staying in takes guts! But on brutal nights when a group run is the only shove sufficient to get me out the door, conquering snow, wind and frozen hair make me feel tough, alive, like I can handle anything thrown my way.
On the other side of the year, summer running (I know, summer feels an eternity away) can have a similar pattern. A pleasant 65°F forecast makes outdoor activities easy to love, but getting out when it’s 85°F and humid takes adequate hydration and a certain kind of drive. We’ve seen both pleasant and less-pleasant weather at Running Between the Vines, but no matter the forecast, it’s incredible to watch first-time race participants and seasoned runners alike cross the finish line grinning, arms raised in triumph.
They go on from the finish line to receive a medal and wine glass, putting it to use right away in the shadows of Sandhill Crane Vineyard’s tasting room and café in Jackson. Bottles of Overture white, Veranda red and Sassy Rosé cast splashes of color on the tables as volunteers pour a taste in each waiting glass. Finishers and their families spread out amongst the lush grounds, nibbling on cheese, chocolate, nuts and other snacks from local vendors, and lean close to snap photos in between rows of grape vines. Some toast to birthdays or upcoming weddings, others celebrate the simple joy of having friends who are also willing to run or walk for wine.
It’s a moment worthy of a winter’s daydream. Wouldn’t it be nice if I had wine at the end of every run? Maybe. But maybe it would make the Saturday morning finish in August less special, diluting the power of that celebratory clink after weeks of diligent training. We’ll raise a glass to this year’s participants with extra enthusiasm, celebrating Five Years of Cheers: the Fifth Anniversary of Running Between the Vines and The Thirsty 3.
Keep at it through the winter and we’ll be rewarded with sunshine, great running and plenty of other reasons to toast when the snow melts. Cheers!
Lizzy Bayoff is a runner and member of the RF Events staff, who organize Running Between the Vines at Sandhill Crane Vineyards in Jackson. She prefers Pinot Noir, but hasn’t met too many wines she doesn’t like (especially when they’re served post-run on the veranda)!