I had been looking forward to this run for a year. A coworker ran it last year and it seemed like such a cool idea. They gave you a Santa hat, beard and running shirt with a Santa jacket on it to wear while you ran. I thought it was a cool concept so I signed up as soon as I could for this year's run. Well, I was disappointed.
Let me just say that my wife made a good point when she thought the point of the run was more fun and family oriented than for people to try and PR on the course ... I think she hit it right now.
I personally look towards my 5ks competitively. I take my runs during the week as my training runs for my Half or Full Marathons and my weekend 5k or 10ks as my competitive runs. So, I took this race seriously.
We got to Montrose Harbor, where basically all the 5ks I do in Chicago are and it was just a sea of Santas. The last e-mail we got from the race organizers said there were 4000 people signed up out of the 5000 spots they allowed. Let me just tell you that is A LOT of people for these courses. Too many people in my opinion.
When the Ho Ho Ho finally went off to start the race, there was just a sea of red in front of me. It took me 2 minutes to get to the Start Line. I could tell from that point that I was going to be annoyed with this run.
I spent the entire first mile bobbing and weaving through the crowd to get to a good pace for me. It didn't help that my knee was hurting (I stupidly forgot my new knee brace at home).
I got to Mile Two where I could thankfully run along the grass and was able to get past some of the big masses and hit some open pathway. I could also tell that my pace was speeding up as I went along, which I was happy about.
Before hitting Mile Three, I was back under 9 min/mile pace so I was just hoping to finish in under 27 minutes. There was no way I would beat my PR of 25:34 at this rate.
During Mile Three, there weren't water stations - there were snack stations ... M&Ms and cookies. At this point, I really should've figured out that this run was more of a fun run than a regular race.
I ended up posting a 26:50, which is 8:39 min/mile pace. I finished 508 out of 3,645 overall and 45 out of 655 in my division (female 25-29). While those results are decent, I wanted better.
There were so many people on the course that I was elbowed, bumped in to, pushed and almost tripped more times than I can count. I only heard "Sorry" a few times ... that is runner etiquette 101.
I guess I just needed to realize before the run of the circumstances, but I really wasn't prepared. I think the race could still be fun and family oriented, while still giving other people that want to take the run seriously a chance (besides the wicked fast people at the front). The Hot Chocolate 5k does a great corralling system that helps out immensely.
To be honest, I don't think I will do this run again, but I think it is a great run for someone just getting started or wanting to go out and have a fun run with friends!!