Photos by OHventures
On June 8, 2014, Slavic Village in Cleveland hosted its annual Pierogi Dash 5K. Despite pouring rain and an early start time, runners came out in droves so they could get a taste of the glorious little potato pockets waiting for them at the finish line!
Hearing the word "pierogi" would leave some people scratching their heads in confusion. In fact, my college roommates at OSU freshman year had no clue what pierogies were when I brought them up in conversation, likely because they were from Central and Southwest Ohio. My mom remedied that situation by whipping up a batch of pierogies for me to take to them. They were forever changed once they had their first taste of pierogi. To those of us who are from Northeast Ohio, hearing the word "pierogi" leaves us hungry and salivating!
I take pride that I introduced pierogies to some fellow Ohioans who had never had the pleasure of tasting these delicacies before.
So, for those who do not know, pierogies are an ethnic food that are largely part of Eastern European cuisines, such as Slovakia, Romania, the Ukraine, the Czech Republic, and Hungary, to name a few. Essentially, the dish is a small dumpling made of dough that is filled with mashed potatoes and fried in butter and onions. There are many variations, however, including pierogies with additional fillings to accompany the potatoes, such as bacon, broccoli, cheese, sauerkraut, or meat. They are usually semi-circular in shape, and nothing short of perfect.
The Slavic Village in Cleveland took the popularity of pierogies to task by naming its annual 5K after the famous food. Previously named the Morgana Run, the folks in charge knew that adding "pierogi" to the title would attract more particpants - and they were right!
This year, over 500 runners showed up to run for pierogies, some even dressed in pierogi-related garb (such as the two Polish women pictured above, carrying wooden spoons and decked out in costumes made to look like a dish of pierogies). There was another man who had a costume that resembled one giant pierogi, much like the artwork for the t-shirts. It was definitely a light-hearted event, as they awarded "golden pierogies" to the best costume (which happened to be the ladies in the photo).
Right when the race began, the rain came pouring down. There was no escaping getting absolutely drenched. This is a rarity for me in races, so I don't have much experience running in the rain. Unfortunately, this made me not pay much attention to the scenery, which was through the streets of Slavic Village. From what I did see, however, were small ethnic restaurants and century-old houses that added a great deal of character to what I typically think of Cleveland.
Much of the race was on a multi-use trail (called the Morgana Run Trail), and some was uphill. Soaking wet, I made it to the finish line in approximately 23:38, placing 5th in my age group. I was pleased that I continually have been improving in my 5Ks as of late (Foxburg Nature Festival 5K was 25:25, and World Fit 5K was 24:00).
A major perk of finishing in 62nd place overall was that there was barely a line for the pierogies! I went straight to the tent where the tasty treats were being dished out and was in & out in no time. In additon to the buttery aromatic pierogies, they were also serving up some jerky-like sausages called "smokies" and the traditional bananas and water.
While enjoying my cultural brunch, the line began to grow exponentially. Even the rain couldn't keep the hungry participants away from the pierogies, which were provided by one of the local Polish restuarants. I had to take a picture of the monstrous line!
I also had to take a picture of a cute golden retriever (named Maggie) who was wearing one of the Pierogi Dash t-shirts. I made a split screen graphic (above) to ask: who wore it better - me or the dog?! I think I know the answer (the dog of course).
Thanks Slavic Village for a 5K that was truly specific to Ohio, and only a few other areas of the country and world! We have pierogi pride in Cleveland!