Our Favorite Fall 2021 Moments
Fall 2021 was one for the ages. As corny as it sounds, we had a lot of highlights that made the season truly special. While getting back to in-person races certainly took the cake, there were so many amazing moments. Read on to recap a few of our faves. And, of course, don’t miss out on the memories we’ll make in 2022: sign up for an in-person race or the Anywhere option 😉
And We’re Back
We don’t need to talk about 2020. But we should talk about September 2021. It was our first in-person Gourdy’s Pumpkin Run in over a year!
Nervous? Yes. Excited? Definitely!
We welcomed the start of an 11 race season in Lansing at Uncle John’s Cider Mill. It was a picture-perfect early fall morning. Cool, crisp temps followed by a gradual warming sun towards the start of the race. With a smidge over 2,000 participants, we were ready to dive right into the renewed tradition.
It was beyond uplifting to see so many smiling faces, all having a great time at the orchard. For us, it was a huge sigh of relief: we can still make races happen! We were so nervous that we’d have a bunch of rust to kick off. While it wasn’t perfect and there were things to fix, overall it was the event we had hoped for. And, it set the tone for a fun season ahead!
Tasting and Planning
Just one week after kicking off the 2021 season, we found ourselves at Spicer Orchards. During the setup days, temps kept creeping up, which made for some dehydrated race directors. Grab a water at the end of a long day? Nope! Head to the tasting room for some hard cider!
We pulled up a stool on their patio and cooled down with a couple pints of their homemade ciders. We had a big race ahead of us and a whole season to crush after that. It was a very nice way to spend a couple hours discussing strategy for the fall, where we can improve after Lansing, etc. Sometimes relaxed meetings like this bring out more than their formal counterpart.
Also, their mango habanero is one of the best flavored ciders we’ve ever had. And we’ve had a ton.
Eating and Drinking
One of the things we enjoy the most about traveling race to race for 10 weeks straight is all the restaurants we get to try. We often head out on Thursday evening to enjoy a beer and some bites. While there are a ton of contenders, here are a few of our faves:
- The Barrel Room (Shelbyville, KY): We cozied up at the bar and tried several of their beers (including a habanero wheat). The overall low key vibe, great beer, and friendly bartender made the place a solid spot near Louisville!
- Cabbage Heads Tavern & Grill (Franksville, WI): Located minutes from Swan’s Pumpkin Farm is a small, local, maybe even dive-y tavern. The type of place that is built upon regulars. Beyond supporting what must be a mom n pop establishment, their cheese curds were out of this world. We went twice during our super short stay in Wisconsin!
- Dirty Franks (Columbus, OH): Our team had a quick lunch during Friday set-up. Located downtown, the small hot dog shoppe turns out unique, well made dogs and crispy fries. On a cool November afternoon, what else do you need?
- The Eagles Nest (Indianapolis, IN): Located at the top of the Hyatt Regency, it’s one of those restaurants that slowly spins! We stopped in for a pre-dinner beverage as it’s far too fancy for us to dine at 😉 The views of Indy were awesome and well worth popping in on a clear evening!
Race day is usually bound to a single day of the week (Saturday). Over the past few years, the virtual run (now dubbed the Anywhere option) has taken off, allowing runners and walkers from all over the world join us for the fall tradition. It’s been really fun for us to celebrate the race every day of the week instead of just on the weekends. So many of you have opted to complete your 5K on random Tuesday nights or Thursday mornings.
With over 40,000+ in 2021 running virtually, we had many highlights. A few that stood out:
- 24 Countries: For the first time, Gourdy’s Pumpkin Run went international, with 24 countries represented. Imagine our delight to see us tagged on Instagram by someone wearing a lightweight tech hoodie in Osaka!
- Fall-natic Challenge: The season-long Fall-natic Challenge was more popular than ever. This meant that we saw the same people get out there each month, rock their 3.1 miles, and tag us on social. Seeing people stick with their fitness goals is a huge reason we created Fall-natic Challenge two years ago, which is why we’re happy to see people make running a habit.
- Spice Blend Chefs: The spice blend that comes with your packet is supposed to be stirred into apple cider. While most people do just that, we saw an influx of people using it in recipes. From savory to sweet, we saw random posts on the Facebook Community Group as well as IG of how they were using it. It’s just fun to see it take off in different directions than the intended use (plus some looked pretty tasty!)
Closing Out the Fall
The entire fall was special. From that first race back to the ones in the middle of the season, every weekend was a blast for us. We had bumps along the way and, sure, get a little tired by the final week. But we couldn’t have planned a more perfect end to a great race season.
Our final 5K took place the first weekend of November. Set-up had us thinking it was going to be a rough go, as the box truck containing all the supplies broke down about a mile away from site on Friday morning. While that could have derailed what should have been a smooth morning, it luckily got fixed quickly and arrived on site mid-morning. We got the tents filled, packet pick-up up and running, the course set, and we’re feeling confident by the time we left Friday evening to get some sleep.
Race morning went off without a hitch. Although very chilly upon our 5:30AM arrival, the sky was sun-drenched by race start and the temps were perfect for running. Right as the horn sounded at 10:00AM and thousands took off, we had that moment where it hit us: that was the final start line of the year for us. Bittersweet as fall 2021 was a triumphant return to in-person races for Gourdy’s Pumpkin Run.
The race itself was perfect, runners had a ball, and we enjoyed our waning hours as we cleaned up the course and park. At the end of the afternoon, we bid farewell to Columbus and the amazing season. Exhaustion was there but optimism and excitement for 2022 was greater. We headed into our offseason chomping at the bit to prepare for the next one!
If you couldn’t tell, we thoroughly enjoyed last year. But, we’re even more excited for 2022. Planning is well underway and we’re pumped to make each race a little better for every participant. Oh, we’re also stoked to try more local foods and drinks (so please share your recommendations!)
Hope to see you out there later this fall!