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Grange Fair fitness events focus on community and health

The Happy Camper 5K is now in its second year at the Grange Fair.
The Happy Camper 5K is now in its second year at the Grange Fair. Photo provided

To offset any of the guilt that accompanies the delicious and drool-worthy delicacies at this year’s Grange Fair, a health walk and 5K run will be bookending this Centre County summer staple. The Mount Nittany Health Walk will get things started at 9 a.m. on Aug. 19th, while the Penn State Health-sponsored Happy Camper 5K will bring the festival to a conclusion on Aug. 27.

“This is the seventh year that we have held the Health Walk at the Grange Fair and each year fair-goers have logged more than 600 miles,” said Nichole Monica, Mount Nittany’s communications and media relations director. “Many people come year after year to participate and it’s about community and health, which is what makes it so unique.”

For many, the Health Walk’s longevity has helped it become a family tradition. The flat course is inviting for people of all ages and winds its way throughout the fairgrounds. Its shade-covered scenery protects participants from an oppressive sun while also offering the chance to chat and take in all of the fair’s vendors and visitors.

“The Health Walk is not a race or a run and is special because of the stories of the people who walk,” Monica said. “Husbands and wives walking together. Moms and daughters. First time walkers. Long-term mall walkers. The Grange Fair has a rich history of family and community stories, and the Health Walk gives one of those opportunities for stories of health. Those people and their stories are what make this event so special.”

However, for those who want to pound the pavement and take a run through the Grange Fair, the Happy Camper 5K provides the ideal occasion to do so. Now in its second year, this run is fast becoming a highlight of the fair’s final day.

“We believe that a 5K is one of many accomplishments of those who are trying to instill wellness into their lives. There is something about running your first 5K, when you cross that finish line there is a real sense of accomplishment,” said Crystal Henry, a marketing and communications specialist at Penn State Hershey. “Although this 5K is timed, it is not meant to be competitive. We hope that the only person people will be competing with is themselves.”

Much like the Health Walk, the Happy Camper 5K’s course is for everyone. In addition to its participant-friendly flatness, this new route has also been designed to accommodate the cheering crowds along the way. The adorning audiences will give runners that extra boost they need to plow through the finish line.

“An easy course like this one lends to some good timing for the experienced runners,” said Michael Olmstead of Left Right Repeat, who organized this year’s run. “This year’s course will run through the tenting section and will bring the enjoyment to everyone. Having the race course go through the grounds while the fair is actually going on really brings a festival feel to the run.”

“This race is truly unique because it is held during the Grange Fair so the runners and walkers have an audience all their own,” Henry added. “The onlookers who are watching from their tents add a special excitement for those who are participating.”

The Mount Nittany Health Walk and Happy Camper 5K are ways to ring in and close out the 2016 Grange Fair, with an emphasis on a health-conscious community.

“Our team has been honored to be part of people’s story to be well,” Mount Nittany’s Monica said. “Helping people take purposeful steps every day to be healthier matters greatly to us. It’s our mission to make people healthier, and we take that responsibility seriously.”

“The Happy Camper 5K brings an event to the fair that gets people to think about wellness,” Henry said. “It also brings a special effect to the last day of the fair for the families in the tents and other fair attendees, as they cheer on the 5K participants. It also may bring people to the fair that otherwise would not have attended in the past to see all that the fair has to offer.”

IF YOU GO

  • What: Mount Nittany Health Walk
  • When: 9 a.m. Aug. 19
  • Where: Grandstand
  • Info: www.grangefair.com

IF YOU GO

  • What: Happy Camper 5K
  • When: 7:30 a.m. Aug. 27
  • Where: Grandstand
  • Info: www.grangefair.com; www.leftrightrepeat.net
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