Not a fan of cold weather running? Me either. Last week’s Turkey Trot was cold enough for me—and it wasn’t even that bad in retrospect—but between that and the simple fact that my legs are tired from running, and recovering from injury, since March, I’m ready to hang up my sneakers for the year. Not even some reasons to run this winter could convince me otherwise. You see, I’m also a skier, and a slightly neurotic one at that, and the minute the hat, gloves and warm boots come out around here, I’m poking around the internet for travel deals to Colorado.
But not so fast. There’s a race that’s been gathering a bit of publicity that might just pull my running shoes out of winter retirement. It’s only a 5K, perfect for whatever Mother Nature decides to throw at us—snow, sleet, wind or warm temps. It involves holiday merriment, something I could definitely use considering my Christmas decorations are still in storage and I’ve been called Scrooge more often than not in the last month. It has offered a pre-registration discount, $5 off if I registered by Nov. 21 (oops, missed out on that one). And you can find it featured in the December issue of Runner’s World and on The Rachael Ray Show.
It’s the Santa Hustle 5K, happening this Saturday, December 3, at Montrose Harbor in Chicago. And December 11 in the Great Smoky Mountains—Sevierville, Tenn., to be exact where a half marathon is also on tap. And December 17 in Indianapolis.
All registrants receive a Santa hat, a Santa-like white beard and a technical T-shirt that doubles as a red Claus coat to wear while they run or walk the 3.1 miles. If that’s not enough to get you into the holiday spirit, the race organizers will also be blasting Christmas music, decking the staging area with holiday decorations (maybe some tinsel, garland, wreaths and trees?), serving up Christmas cookies, and displaying donation baskets for Toys for Tots, an organization that uses its holiday toy donations to make a child's eyes light up Christmas morning (not exactly their mission statement, but hopefully that sums it up somewhat accurately). And in Chicago, participants are treated to a breakfast buffet at the ever popular Cubby Bear and Sports Corner in Wrigleyville when they’re done running. You can’t really complain about being fed and warmed up on what can easily be a cold December morning. Besides, would you really want to miss the opportunity to run with thousands of other Santas? Or count the number of Santas you can pass (that was competitive me typing)? Or at least watch the red formation run by and snap some pictures?
Even if my running legs have already gone on vacation, my eyes are too curious not to see what this is all about. Yeah, I could stay in bed Saturday morning, typical considering my usual Spinning routine hasn’t happened in months and I barely made it to the Hot Chocolate race (thank goodness the 5K start was delayed by the course re-route or I really would have been in trouble). Or I could go out and hopefully find some much-needed Christmas cheer. And if the Santa Hustle doesn’t do it—though I can’t imagine how that would happen—I can get another dose at the Santa Speedo Run, which is shorter, later and closer to home, except it encourages far less clothing. But I have to decide soon, the Hustle's registration is about to close and packet pick-up ends tonight at Universal Sole.
Who’s getting into the holiday spirit with a themed run? Which one and where?
Photo grabbed from Adrenaline Sports Management.