Breakdown: “Think of what this weather could be!” declared the race announcer to the huddled runners at the starting line of the Jingle Bell Run/Walk this morning just before the 9am start time, as the temperature hovered around forty-five degrees and a steady drizzle fell. “At least we’re not running in icy snow!” And though many of us who showed up may still have envied our counterparts who decided to stay in their warm (dry) beds this morning, there’s a certain pride that comes with running in adverse conditions. And once the race got started (with the 5K and 10K runners taking off at the same time), the light rain was quickly forgotten, and even stopped completely (if briefly) about twenty minutes in. The benefit of the rain was that the course, which made heavy use of the Lakefront Trail, was very open, with very few non-participants braving a run in the rain. The field looked a little slimmer than expected, but there was still a good mix of hardcore runners and dedicated Arthritis Foundation supporters taking part in both distances. When a race is well run and the course clearly managed, the weather isn’t as much of a factor.
Price: $35-$45 for the 5K, $45-$55 for the 10K
Course: Starts and finishes on the trail just east of Cannon Drive in front of the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, spending a good deal of time on the Lakefront Trail. The 5K turnaround was a bit abrupt but the 10K course was well thought out and made good use of the trail around Cricket Hill. Both courses were well-staffed and clearly marked but it would have been nice if the last mile and a half of the 10K hadn’t joined back up with the 5K just in time for 10K finishers to get behind 5K walkers.
Organization (gear check, etc.): Pre-race packet pickup was fast and efficient at Universal Sole and while day of registration was speedy, day of packet pickup was a bit crowded and slow. Brave volunteers throughout the course braved the rain and cold weather.
Goodie Bag (includes shirt): A cotton, long-sleeve white shirt with the race logo on it seems like a bit of a throwback to races of old, but it’s almost a novelty shirt since you rarely see them these days. Still, not one that will get much wear. Not too much in the goodie bag other than some free arthritis relief topical samples.
Weather: Around forty-five and drizzling at the start of the race, but the rain cut off about twenty minutes in, making for great running weather (mid-forties and overcast). (Zach Freeman)