Tree farm to host inaugural 5K

Published 9:51 am Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Runners offered chance to explore nature

ANDIS — When you think of Christmas trees, you picture them adorned with colored lights and sparkling decorations, standing tall in your home.

Most people don’t get to enjoy the trees during the rest of the year, before they are chopped down.

A couple of Tri-State running enthusiasts are hoping to change that this year.

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In May, Dickess Tree Farm in Andis will host the inaugural Christmas Tree Challenge, a 5K run and nature walk. Participants will run or walk three miles though the woods and Christmas trees of the farm, experiencing nature and getting exercise at the same time.

The event is something that owner Keith Lee Dickess said has been a longtime coming.

“A lot of our customers wanted to have more activities at the farm other than Christmas,” he said.

Dickess said he and his family have always wondered how to include the community in activities at a Christmas tree farm during their off-season.

Since Dickess, a former Dawson-Bryant track athlete, has his own running trails though the farm that he frequently uses, all he needed was a little convincing and some organization to put an event together.

Fellow runner and customer, Jim Duke, of Huntington, W.Va., helped Dickess get the event organized and started spreading the word to the running community.

“We had to clean (the trails) up a little bit, make sure they were user-friendly and make sure there were no stumps,” Dickess said. “There were some roots here and there and we cleaned them all out to make sure it was safe for everyone.”

Dickess said since the word had gotten out online, through the Tri-State Racer’s website, the event has grown into more than just a 5K.

“It’s really kind of grown, since it was put on,” Dickess said. “We’re going to have a pizza party afterwards, inflatables and hayrides. It’s kind of morphed into something a lot bigger.”

Local businesses have also donated gift cards and other items for prizes. The tree farm will also award trees and wreaths, to be redeemed in December, to top finishers.

Other prizes will be given to the fastest, cutest and most unique owners and pets.

Duke said, even though there are prizes involved, the 5K is not all about trophies and crossing the finish line first. He also said the event is not your typical 5K road race.

“The benefits of doing trail runs is you still have the opportunity to run, but you get off the road and you actually enjoy nature at its finest,” he said. “That is something most people don’t have the opportunity to experience, is actually running though a real live orchard or tree farm.”

Duke also said the event isn’t as competitive as other races.

“With a trail race there is no pride loss when you go up a hill and you actually have to walk up the hill. You take the opportunity to enjoy what you’re participating in. It’s not such a mad dash to get to the finish line.”

Dickess is already hoping for another event in the fall, a 10K. He also said he hopes the event becomes popular enough that proceeds will cover more than just the cost of supplies and food for the races, such as a charity of some sort.

To pre-register for the Christmas Tree Challenge on May 21, visit The cost is $20 before May 14 to ensure a T-shirt of requested size and sack bag. There will be registration available the day of the event for $25. The event will take place rain or shine.

For more information, call Dickess Tree Farm at (740) 867-4931.