The Jingle Bell Run is a national 5k run/walk held in various cities to raise funds for the Arthritis Foundation. Along with the 5k, they hold a shorter Candy Cane Fun Run for kids. The race I chose was at Onondaga Lake Park in Liverpool (Syracuse), NY. It took me about an hour and a half to get to Syracuse. Race started at 10. They usually have large turnouts for these races, and this one was no exception – over 1,300 people.
People raise money individually or in teams. Many dress in festive holiday gear. I wore a silly Santa style baseball cap with a pom pom on the end and a light up “Santa Loves Me” t-shirt from Old Navy (clearance!). Yes, I have no shame. Oh and did I mention – there were mascots? Santa and a Christmas mouse! I love mascots. Yes, I said it.
Ok, back to the race report. I left my house around 7 a.m.. It was strange driving weather- bright, glowing sun for the sunrise and then completely foggy to the point where you could only see a few feet in front of you (that part was scary). I got there before 8:30 and got a good parking spot. Parking was plentiful, so I was happy about that. I had never been to this park before. It was nice. I then got my bib and tshirt. You also got jingle bells. People were dressed in all sorts of festive hats, headbands, socks – even tutus.
I was hoping to avoid a Raynauds attack in my hands, but it was in the 20s when I got there, so I did have one. I got out my hand warmers and sat in my car for bit, and that did alleviate it. I have been getting painful attacks more frequently, which is why I wanted to do another race before it got too cold, snowy & slippery out. By the time race time arrived, it was probably in the 30s.
The race started on the road and then headed into the park by the lake. We went over a bridge too. As this was an up and back course, I knew we would have to go up the bridge on the way back. I was not looking forward to an uphill part so close to the end. The route itself was good but crowded. A water stop was at the half way point.
Because there were so many people, you were never running alone. I know I lost time in the beginning since I started in the back. My watch showed a better pace. Every second counts when you are running as slowly as I am now! If I can ever find the cord from my watch, I will download and post a map of the actual route.
Among the runners were a group of people from Fleet Feet. I am assuming they were from their No Boundaries training program. On the path, written in colorful chalk, were many encouraging messages for them. I felt these could apply to all runners. I know it helped me. There were sayings like “Be proud, It’s Your Personal Best,” etc.
Along the route, you could also see all the Christmas light structures above you. These were set up for Lights On The Lake, a 2-mile drive thru display of lights that goes up every holiday season. I may have to go back to visit that. It looks like it would be cool to see lit up at night.
I trudged along – slowly – and was very grateful when I saw the bridge because I knew the end was near. I huffed and puffed up that, then ran down the gravel parking lot towards the finish. That part was kind of uneven to run on. Ever since I broke my toe, I am very paranoid about the terrain.
Someone handed me a bottle of water and then I headed towards the huge tent. They had heaters warming it, which was a very welcome relief from the chill. You had to wait a bit in line for post race snacks, but it was worth it. They had bananas, bagels, apple & orange juice, granola bars and cookies.
I did not stay for the whole awards ceremony. I did hear them announce CJ Malone, an eleven year old with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis. He, along with his team, helped raise $5,000 – wow! There were many other fundraising teams. I’ll post the total raised when I find out what that figure is. Teams had cute names like All Belles, No Balls, The Nutty Fruitcakes and Jiggled Pink – one of their team members had pink jingle bells all over his running outfit. There were great tshirts too. I loved the group wearing the shirts with “Running with Scissors” on the back. Kudos to you all for raising so much money for such a worthwhile cause.
Finally, it was time to head out. There was a line of cars to leave, but after that – smooth sailing – and no fog on the way back. There was a 5 mile race I could have stayed closer to home and run. But, I have run that race 3x in the past and just did not want to run so far. Also, I have another race coming up this week. I’m really not in running shape to do these, although I am happy to say my broken toe is 90% recovered!
Overall, I think this was a very nice race. This would be a great race for the first time 5k runner. I talked to one woman who ran it as her first 5k, even after drinking a few too many beers the night before. Even so, she still beat me. So sad, so very, very sad….
I also wanted to add that it was a very well organized event. Their growing numbers every year prove they are doing something right! Just like the race I did last Sunday, the good weather helped with turnout I’m sure. Even though it was chilly and nowhere near as warm as last week, not having wind, snow or sleet makes a big difference in those last minute, day-of-race registrations. I was also impressed with the attention to details. For example, the porta potties were decorated inside with holiday decorations. I kid you not! You can tell a lot of love and effort went into this race. As always, a big thank you to all the volunteers, because, without them, none of these races would happen and no money would be raised.
After my next race, that is it – race season over for me – hooray! I’m hoping for a better season next year. I may even take the Winter off from running and focus solely on cross training. I have 3 more treadmill pool classes in the Hydroworx pool and then I am free to do whatever I decide. I’m hoping that involves better food choices and a commitment to getting my cardio back and weight down.
If you want more information about this race, you can click HERE. Race Results can be found HERE. A video from the news is HERE. If you want to run a similar race in Rochester, NY, there is one December 1st, around the MCC campus.
PROS: Great cause. Nice atmosphere- holiday themed races are always festive. I like that all ages, shapes and sizes of runners take part – not just the young, thin, fast people. Loved Santa and the mouse mascot!
CONS: Maybe have exact chip timing, so the race timing starts when you cross the start since it takes a bit for folks in the back to get there. Consider having 2 lines for the food to aid in traffic/congestion. Also, I could not find a FB page for this specific race – the Liverpool location. It would be nice to see one.
Scroll down to see more photos
STATS: 40:53*, 13.11 min mile pace*, 233/299 for females 40-49, 710/956 women, 1032/1344
*my GPS watch showed a faster time and 12:54 min mile pace