Adventurous Alumni in Brief

July 12th, 2012 | Post a comment

Challenged by Amish Runners

R. Todd Weaver ’87 and Jim Smucker

R. Todd Weaver ’87 and Jim Smucker

Jim Smucker, PhD (in management), who was scholar-in-residence in EMU’s business & economics program this spring, and R. Todd Weaver ’87, a dentist in Souderton, Pa., were featured in a long, contemplative feature in Runner’s World magazine (published 02/27/2012) about discovering superlative runners among the Amish.

The main author, Runner’s World regular Bart Yasso, wrote:

Last October I ran with Smucker, some of his Mennonite friends, and about 20 Amish. The Mennonites wore running shorts and running pants, and synthetic tops. The Amish men wore black pants held up with suspenders and long-sleeve, button-down shirts. Most were clean-shaven (Amish don’t grow beards until they marry…). The one woman in the group wore a long dress and a head scarf. I should note that they all wore running shoes. I should also note that we were running by the light of the moon.

Yasso wrote that Weaver started running with a few friends under a full moon in the fall of 2007. Smucker, whose immediate roots are Amish, joined the runs in 2008 and began inviting some Amish to run with the group in 2009, frequenting roads without electrical lines (the better to enjoy the full moon). Those Amish who accepted Smucker’s invitation turned out to be “wondrous” runners, said Yasso.

“The Mennonites were good runners, but the Amish — with their even harder lives, and even stricter rules — were clearly a cut above,” wrote Yasso. “…Man, I wondered, with a little more training, just how good could these guys be?”

Smucker is CEO of the Bird-in-Hand Corporation and former board chair of the Lancaster Chamber of Commerce. In the fall of 2012, he will be teaching organizational behavior in EMU’s master in nursing leadership program.

He is the motivating force behind the annual Bird-in-Hand Half-Marathon in September. This half-marathon has attracted as many as 1,000 runners.

“Smucker the Mennonite believes that physical fitness and goals are good for everyone,” wrote Yasso, in collaboration with another writer, Steve Friedman.

Yasso and Friedman observed that both Mennonites and Amish “hold fast to the principles of their forebears — hard work, humility, modesty, community togetherness verging on clannishness, self-reliance, and a skeptical view of modernity.” But there are significant differences too, they added: “To make a crude and overly simplistic analogy, Old Order Amish are like Ultra-Orthodox Jews, and Mennonites are a more acculturated, reformed branch.” —BPL

These Alums Aren’t Wimps

Tough Mudder Alumni

Front, from left, Lowell Brown, Landon Miller, Doug Friesen, Andy Dula, Sheldon Wenger, Steve Denlinger, Ryan Sauder. Back, Zach King, Ryan Hess, Bruce Balestier, David Sowers, Lynn Longenecker, Sheldon Esch

A “Tough Mudder“ endurance competition in Pocono Manor, Pa., in April saw a team largely composed of EMU-linked persons complete the event in three and a half hours. The individuals were: business executive Andrew “Andy” Dula ’91, chair of EMU’s board of trustees; fundraiser Lowell Brown (married to Lisa White ’99); workforce developer Sheldon Esch ’ 97; psychologist Doug Friesen ’91; supervisor Zack King (married to Laura Hess ’00); business manager Ryan Linder-Hess ’98; educator Lynn Longenecker ’94; family counselor Landon Miller ’97; and college administrator Ryan Sauder (married to M. Janelle Thomas ’95).

“Tough Mudder events are hardcore 10-12 mile obstacle courses designed by British Special Forces to test your all around strength, stamina, mental grit, and camaraderie,” declares the Tough Mudder website. Each team is required to navigate 13 miles of obstacles, including mud, fire, swimming through ice-water and jolts of electricity (10,000 volts).

The EMU-linked team trained for 10 weeks under the guidance of Angela Morris Myers ’00, a personal trainer and group fitness instructor based at Empower Training Systems in Lancaster, Pa. Dula said the group entered Tough Mudder as motivation to get into better shape and to enjoy the camaraderie of the training and competition. —BPL

Adventurous Retirement

Cal and Rachel Litwiller, who met and married at EMU as members of the class of ’69, traveled coast-to-coast, with Cal on a bicycle and Rachel in a support SUV during 2011. Dividing their trip into two segments, they covered 3,650 miles from Cape Flattery, Washington, to Cape Henlopen, Delaware, with Cal averaging 60 miles per day on his semi-recumbent three-wheel bicycle.

Cal is a retired high school science teacher and Rachel is a retired interior decorator. They are active members of the Mt. Pleasant Evening Rotary Club.

They have also sojourned for extended periods in southern Africa and Central America since their retirement. —BPL

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