I’ve mentioned this only about a thousand times before, but this race is one of my favorite races. I try to run it every year (Last year’s race recap here: Big Chill 2015 ). This race asks that participants bring a toy of at least $15 value instead of paying a race entry fee. It is truly a “fun” run – while you can spend $5 to get chip-timed (and win age group awards), the large majority do not. Personally, I know this race has way too many people to be a PR for me, so I don’t bother and just run hard and enjoy the ride.
And, of course, dress in my holiday best!
I read on the race website that over 8,041 people registered for the race this year. They also take race-day registrants, so I am guessing that number went up a bit. However, since the large majority don’t chip time, I suppose there’s no way of knowing exactly how many came out. The crowds are lots of college students so the start is always messy with walkers, runners, kids, etc – and this was as usual.
It took about 20 seconds to cross the start (mom and I placed ourselves pretty near the front on purpose), and off we went! The course itself has quite a few small hills. Nothing major, but around every turn is a rolling hill. It takes you down College Ave in New Brunswick, the heart of the Rutgers University campus, around toward the Raritan, and into Bucceleuch Park before heading back to College Ave to finish.
The best part of this race is the festive atmosphere. Tell college kids to get dressed up for a theme party (AKA holiday/winter race) and they sure will! While last year I distinctively remember getting passed by a guy in a blow-up reindeer costume, I am proud to report that I did NOT get passed by anything in a REAL costume this year. Sure, lots of us were festive – but no huge santas or grinches or anything crazy passed me. Either I was holding my ground, or just in a less aggressively dressed pack of runners 😉
I came away happy with my race. The weather was beautiful – cool but not freezing, sunny, with a little bit of a wind. In December in Jersey, you can’t ask for much better! Since there was no chip time, my Garmin time was 34:12 (clock time 34:35).
I am completely happy with that. My splits were pretty even, as well. I was trying out a pair of Hoka One One Clifton 2’s for the first time after having some foot pain recently, and am happy to report that my foot felt great (I’ll post up a full review of the shoes after I’ve had some more time to get to know them).
Honestly, this race always just makes me smile, no matter how well I run it. The stack of toys inside the gym is amazing. It is an awesome way to close out my races for the year each year 🙂
Do you have an annual holiday race that you love? Do you dress up for it?