Why Broadbent Ran the BIH Half-Marathon in Full Amish Attire

by Anabelle Broadbent for Runner’s Gazette

First, thank you for capturing and sharing the images of me running the Bird In Hand Half Marathon! I will treasure those images of a very special day in my life.

I wanted to share a few bullet points on the story behind the Amish dress…

  • I saw a post on FB about BIH in 2016. A friend of mine won the Female Masters Award! Oh that horseshoe, that beautiful horseshoe award!
  • I learned more about the race and knew I just had to do it!
  • My first year racing the BIH 5K and Half Marathon was 2017. I LOVED IT! It was an amazing experience!
  • I went back in 2018 and 2019.
  • No 2020 due to COVID.
  • 2021, I registered and was set to do it but instead of following my heart I followed a coach’s advice to run a different race, Main Line 5K (part of the USATF Mid-Atlantic Grand Prix series). In the midst of working in Puerto Rico while living in Pennsylvania, I showed up at that race just after landing in PA, tired, stressed out, and feeling like I should have been at BIH. I did not race well that day.
  • This year, I went back to BIH. It had been three years since I raced the BIH 5K and Half Marathon! I missed it! I was so happy to be back!
  • Over the years (2017-2019) I connected and made friends with some locals in the Amish community. One was a very special friend, Ruby. We stayed in touch over the years.
  • Since my very first BIH race, I had seen and been inspired by the very few young women who would race in full Amish attire… lots of the men do but not the women, especially the older women. I wondered what it would be like to run the race in fully Amish attire… I considered it for a long time… and decided I would do it this year!
  • I checked with the community to ensure that it would be acceptable for an English woman to wear Amish clothing. They knew me and knew the high respect and admiration I hold for their way of life.
  • Ruby offered to give me some of the clothes she had made for her daughter.
  • A few weeks before the race, Ruby invited me into her home, so that I could try on some of the dresses. It was such a beautiful and unforgettable experience. The very first dress I tried on, the women in the house smiled… Ruby’s mom exclaimed, “It fits you like it was made for you!” Surrounded by Ruby, her mother, and her sister-in-law, I tried on several dresses and aprons, while we laughed, learned from each other’s lives, and built meaningful, deep connections.
  • Ruby gifted me one of her bonnets. We all tried to figure out how to make it stay in place with my short hair! We tried lots of different pins and barrettes! (eventually I ended up wearing a headband… not just any headband, but an Aruna headband made in India by a woman who had learned to sew and through this skill found her way to freedom)… Aruna is one of the brands I work closely with (I have done a few modeling shoots to promote their products and cause).
  • The whole family was so excited about me wearing full Amish attire and completing the Half Marathon.
  • We were all reunited at the EXPO… every member of that family was working at the race that weekend. Ruby had her booth showcasing her impressive sewing skills. Ruby’s brother had a table with his beautiful woodcrafts. Ruby’s mom was cooking and serving at the pre-race meal. Ruby’s husband was handing out race packets. Ruby’s son had a table with wood shelves. Etc…
  • They were all so so so excited to see me arrive at the EXPO wearing one of Ruby’s dresses!
  • At the 5K they were so excited when I won my age group!
  • They waited for me at the finish line of both races!
  • They were so happy to see me cross the finish line of the half marathon wearing Ruby’s dress!
  • I chose to wear a few items of my own, including my red flower and my signature choker. All items made by and for women. Women Supporting Women.
  • The community support on the course was unbelievable! I wish I spoke Pennsylvania Dutch… At the turnaround point on the course, as the lead men started seeing me, every single one of them looked in disbelief and enthusiastically cheered me on! The women and girls at the water stops cheered me on so loud! I smiled for 13.1 miles!
  • 13.1 miles of joy! A reminder that I can do hard things! Another female runner reminded me that running a half marathon is hard. Period. Running it in Amish attire… WHEW!!!
  •  Sure, I would have been able to win 1st F50-54 had I worn minimal run gear, but winning is not about 1st place only… I define success and winning on my own terms.
  • Lots of aspects of Amish life appeal to me:
    • Their simple way of living
    • Their culture is built on wisdom and hard work instead of instant gratification.
    • The Amish are known for being excellent cooks because they make everything from scratch. Not only does their food taste better, but they are spending less on it than us because they aren’t buying convenience foods.
    • They grow and preserve their own food.
    • They know how to sew and mend their own clothes, preserve their own food, knit their own mittens, construct their own buildings, bale their own hay, make their own furniture, etc.
    • They do almost everything themselves. Need a gift? Make it yourself. Broken faucet? Fix it yourself. Empty cupboard? Grow your own food.
    • The Amish are known for being hard workers.
    • The Amish are known for being minimalists. They are taught to be content and happy with what they have and not waste their lives worrying about things. Find contentment in what you have right now. Need less. Spend less. Life isn’t about collecting things but collecting memories.
  • One other thought… The back of the race shirt says “the JOY of running in community”… which is one of the race slogans… but it is much more than just a slogan… It is exactly why I keep going back year after year… and why I chose to race in Amish attire… to share in that sense of community… to experience that JOY of running, of community! I truly believe that each one of us has to know our “why”… Why do we train days after day? Why do we run? Why do we race? After many years of racing you know that it is not just about times on the clock, personal records, beating your nemesis… the true JOY can be experienced when running is not just about yourself, but about something bigger than yourself… to inspire others, to draw awareness to a cause, to experience running (a solo sports) as a team and/or community sport… to enjoy the magnificent views of unique locations (that city you’ve never being to, that scenic course vs. a city course)… 

In the past few months, I have done a lot of the hard inner work to design a life I love. Really getting quiet and finding my own voice. Using my voice (even when it shakes). Doing what I love to do, knowing what is important to me, blocking out what other people are doing and what other people think I should be doing… trusting that what lights me up, lights me up for a reason… The reason is that it is that “thing” I am here to do and be.

I am choosing how I work and who I work with. I am doing work that aligns with my values. Saying a lot more “no’s” to protect my “yes!”

Again, thank you so much for capturing the joy of those pictures of me on the BIH course!



  Dr. Anabelle Broadbent, CEO and Founder at Verde Ops, LLC
Pathogenic Microbiologist | Food Scientist | Biochemist

4920171st F545-49
2nd F Masters
6th F Overall
22:09 (7:09)
8th F45-49
1:50:29 (8:26)
5020181st Masters
2nd F Overall
22:37 (7:18)
3rd F50-54
1:49:23 (8:21)
5120191st Masters
2nd F Overall
21:42 (7:00)
3rd F50-54
1:42:43 (7:50)
532021USATF MA Race ☹
5420221st F50-54
2nd F Masters
5th F Overall
22:42 (7:18)
7th F50-54
#63 F Overall
1:55:24 (8:49)
Anabelle’s BIH Results by Year

Categories: Features

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