There's just something festive about getting dressed in bright colors and/or festive costumes and pinning on a race bib.
The Jingle Bell Run 5K is actually a national event with numerous local venues across the United States. Affiliated with the Arthritis Foundation, all proceeds from the various events benefit those afflicted with arthritis as well as provide funds to enhance research efforts. This particular event took place on Saturday, December 1st, in Des Moines, Iowa (an hour from my hometown of Grinnell). For more information, you can check out the Arthritis Foundation website HERE to find a race near you or to make a donation.
You may remember that I ran this race last year (recap HERE). This year's race day experience was nothing like last year's (except for the fact that it was on the same course). Last year, it was a new event for me, run on a beautiful day with oodles of sunshine and pleasant temps. This year, Momma N turned on us...and decided she wasn't gonna play nice.
Let me set the scene...
The weather forecast was not looking good. In fact, it had not looked good all week. The projected rain, though, had been scaled back from 95% (as of Friday evening) to 60% by Saturday morning, so things were looking a bit better as we pulled out of town...hoping for that rain to let up by race time.
|Have ponchos, will (try to) run!|
There was no official mat to cross, but a blow-up arch to run under. We were told to "GO!" and the race began.
Holy Sleet And Wind, Batman! Most of the first mile was straight East, on Westown Parkway, into a fierce 24mph head wind, with sleet pelting us. I'm not one to brag (much) about my great ideas, but wearing the baseball hat under my stocking hat was a pretty genius move on my part. By keeping my head tilted down, the bill of the hat shielded my eyes (and most of my face) from the sleet.
Did I mention that this first mile was mostly uphill, and some of it was on a walking bridge? Yes, we not only had the wind and the sleet to fight, but gravity as well.
I just kept my head down and soldiered on, eventually clearing the bridge then turning south, onto 50th Street. WHEW! I had lost Barb shortly after the race began, but I spotted her, a short ways behind me, after the bridge.
With all the rain, the sidewalks were a mess of puddles. The next part of the route took us through a park, and then towards another bridge. This second bridge wasn't as steep (or as long), but did have a good incline to climb.
My tights had been saturated before we'd even crossed the start line. I could feel water sloshing around in my shoes well before the 2-mile mark. Yuck. It was a short while later that Barb caught up to me. I had been leap-frogging with an older gentleman, and she was able to sneak around us as I tried to pass this guy on the narrow puddle-laden sidewalk. I finally got around him in the final mile, just before the last bridge.
By this time, the sleet had turned to snow and we were back on the main road, headed towards the finish line. My poncho had been whipping around me in every direction. In an attempt to keep my arms dry, I had pulled my arms underneath my poncho and had been trying to "pinch" the inside of it with my gloves (yeah, #awkward) to hold it in place.
Barb was only a few feet ahead of me, and I tried to catch up to her as we crossed the last bridge. In the final surge to the finish line, my poncho swirled up in face, across my nose, as I took a deep breath (yeah, that was awkward, too). I caught up with Barb right as we crossed the mat....and just like that, we were done.
There was no finish line fan fare (because there were no spectators, thanks to the weather). A group of us paused for a few brief moments, as we waited for traffic to clear (so we could cross the street and head back to the post-race party). Everyone was talking about the weather, and how the wind and the sleet were so brutal.
We grabbed some pancakes and ate quickly, then we snuck inside the clinic and changed into some dry clothes and shoes in the restroom. On a whim, we went back to the tent, to see if the results had been posted...and saw that we'd both placed in our (10-year) age group. Although we had exact finish times (28:55), Barb did cross the finish line just slightly ahead of me. She got first place and I took second.
|Ahhh, in the dry clothing!|
We later learned that we were the first two women to cross the finish line. It definitely was not our fastest 5K finish, but the crowd of racers was not huge and the weather made for a tough race. We were just happy to be done!
Aren't these medals cute? I'm not really a fan of finisher medals for 5K races (since the distance is really pretty short), but I'm completely good with age group medals.
My thoughts on this event? Despite the crazy weather, this is a well-executed race. The total number of participants was low (no doubt due to the weather). The final results showed only 43 participants with finish times, but there was the option to not have a timing chip (for a lesser registration fee), so I don't think every participant was accounted for. I'm pretty sure there were a lot of DNS'ers as well.
As this post goes to press, the website showed just under $31,000 had been raised (from the Des Moines venue) for the Arthritis Foundation. Isn't that great?
For swag, we received long-sleeved red (cotton) shirts and shoe laces. Although I am not a fan of cotton event shirts, I do love the red color and the graphics are very eye-catching. Last year, we also received finisher medals, but I don't think they had those this year. No big deal. This event is a fund-raiser, after all; I'd much prefer the registration funds go to the organization itself than towards more swag for the participants.
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