It might have been a shorter fun run than most in Hays, but many who participated thought the ending was well worth it.
The first Market to Farm Fun Run took nearly 70 runners, walkers and cyclists from the Downtown Pavilion just east of Main on 10th Street to Hall Street, then to 12th Street and out of town on Noose Road on a 3-mile route.
They then turned onto 220th Avenue, where a mile down the sand road, still damp from Friday's rain, the finish line waited at Bethesda Place, 1571 220th Ave. A meal of breakfast burritos cooked over a campfire, zucchini tomato tarts, cherry danishes and pumpkin apple coffee cake awaited them.
The food was made from ingredients from the farm’s gardens and eggs from its chickens.
Greeting the participants as they turned in the driveway was Jay Hoffman, one of the six men with developmental disabilities who live and work at Bethesda Place.
Proceeds from the entry fees for the fun run benefit both Bethesda Place and the Downtown Market, where the men of Bethesda often can be found selling herbs and produce they grow.
“Good job,” Hoffman told everyone as they crossed the finish line, giving high fives to those who passed close enough. A few people even stopped to give him a hug.
Just up the driveway, Carl Danielson, another of Bethesda's residents, greeted people at the Giving Garden, a patio with seating and a small gazebo among its brick planters, where Tom Stafford cooked up the scrambled eggs and potatoes in a large skillet over a fire pit.
“We call this our Giving Garden because so many people have given to us,” Sherry Stafford said as she mingled with the crowd.
The Staffords founded Bethesda Place about 40 years ago to help improve the lives of individuals with disabilities. They retired in 2013, but still help out their son-in-law Jarod Tippy, who now manages the farm, and daughter Amanda Tippy, who also volunteers on the farm.
Amanda encouraged the participants to tour the 45-acre farm after their meal, noting the rain they have received has kept the grounds unusually green this year.
Lori Dickman and Dara Jochum, both of Hays, had planned to walk the route but ended up riding bikes thanks to Jochum’s sore ankle.
“It was tough because of the sand,” Dickman said of the last stretch up a hill on the county road. “You feel like you accomplished something.”
Denise Simpson and Kevin Flegler came from Russell to run. They had heard about Bethesda, but it was their first visit. They agreed the farm and the meal offered something different from most running events in the area.
“Sitting there at breakfast, it reminded me of some of the things I’ve done in Denver. You get away from the world, and they’re just nice people. A lot of them you’ve never met before, but you can talk and converse and it takes you to a different place than the normal day-to-day,” Flegler said.