The Apple Hilltm Harvest Run (AHHR) began in 1979 as a way to prolong the “tourist season” in Apple Hill and has developed into a treasured community tradition.
Pete and Joanne Schoener asked the Apple Hilltm Growers Association if they would sponsor and promote a foot race in the area. The growers wanted to promote the area and a healthy activity as well as encourage a fun family outing.
Pete designed a course that began and ended at Abel’s Apple Acres. Joanne and Pete felt that runners and their families would enjoy the beautiful setting and, with the help of all of the growers, that word would spread about this enjoyable run. They were right!
The early races were very low tech. The Schoeners depended on their running friends and inexperienced grower-volunteers to help on race day. There were no fancy timing devices — just good old stopwatches. Runners did not wear bibs; instead they were given wooden tongue depressors with handwritten numbers on them.
The first year the organizers were expecting a turnout of about 500 people. They were overwhelmed by almost double that amount!
By 1981 the Schoeners decided that they did not have the time to continue organizing the race. In 1982 the Apple Hilltm Growers Association felt confident enough to take over management of the event.
The growers realized that they had success in their hands. They hired a timing company for the finish line and opted to retire the tongue depressors in favor of bibs.
From 1982 to 1987, Maryann Argyres, an Apple Hilltm grower herself (Argyres Acres), single-handedly organized the run. She only received much-needed assistance on the day of the run because most growers were so busy with their ranches.
An article in the Sacramento Bee stated that the AHHR was one of the top five races in Northern California during the time!
Maryann recalls one kids’ run during which Edio Delfino, owner of Kid’s Inc., had borrowed a starting pistol to start off the huge group. The pistol had not been tested ahead of time. The first few rows of young runners were stunned and momentarily frozen by the resounding boom. Speaking of stunned, Ed’s ears rang for days afterward!
In spite of the fun involved (a couple even got married at the start of the run one year!), the AHHR was becoming overwhelming to administer.
The growers asked Snowline Hospice to take over the organization of the AHHR, with proceeds benefiting hospice support and activities.
Sometime between 1988 to 1995 the AHHR moved to the Larsen Apple Barn and the course changed. In 1996 the torch was passed to Camino School. The Apple Hilltm tradition of a relaxed family foot race on the first Sunday in November, rain or shine, continues today.
Parent volunteers now organize the run as a benefit for Camino School and are supported by an average of 200 volunteers who step up to offer much needed help.
The AHHR has been a boon for the small school.
Past proceeds from the AHHR have gone toward providing computers in each of the K-8 classrooms, the addition of middle school classrooms, a new gymnasium, and a lovely amphitheater, new playground equipment and visual & performing arts equipment.
Now entering its 38th year, the Apple Hilltm Harvest Run starts and finishes at the Larsen Apple Barn. Attracting over 1,800 participants each year, the AHHR is one of the most popular and beloved run/walks in Northern California.
We invite you to come take a bite out of Apple Hilltm !
By Julie Leconte with input from Maryann Argyres