The Elkhart Education Foundation hosted the first annual Ugly Sweater 5k, benefitting the Elkhart Educational Foundation and the Tolson Center which hosts after an after school program for the kids of Elkhart. The race was held in downtown and started at the Nibco Ice Skating park and used a lot of the towns paved bike paths. There were around 300 runners and walkers that took part in the 5k or 1 mile walk. Not a bad turn out at all for a first year race.
Instead of your ordinary race tshirt, the Elkhart Education Foundation gave everyone a hat.
Before the race started, there was a Santa there to get your picture taken with. Hey, if Santa is there, I will have my picture taken with him!
The race was held in the afternoon at 4:00. The weather was perfect for a race. It was sunny, very little wind, and temps were in the mid 40s. Now keep in mind, as you keep reading, this is a first year event and I truly believe that with a few changes that this can be a great local race late in the year. I really want to see this race succeed.
The start was a little interesting. Within the first 15-20 feet was the first right turn. Would have obviously liked the first turn to be a little further down the road than that to insure no one is tripped up or slips. Luckily on this day, there was no ice or wet pavement to worry about. To my knowledge, everyone made it through the first turn in good shape.
We then went another block before another right turn followed by another right turn before entering the back path. The beginning stages of the race had several tight turns before straightening out along the Elkhart River. At this point, 4 high school runners were about 10-20 meters ahead of me.
The course continued to follow the river along the bike path and the around the old YMCA. At about this time I noticed the first mile marker was off but only by a tenth of a mile. Not a huge deal. At this point in the race, it seemed the front runners were backing off at this point a little. At about the mile marker, I cought right back up with them and chose to take the lead and see who would follow. First mile was run in 5:54.
One runner, named Julio as I later learned, did stay with me and ran together for the next mile. Pace stayed steady with neither one of us pushing it too much. The course continued to follow the bike path around an appartment building next to the river and then onto the island. Before taking the bridge across to the island, we saw the second mile marker. The only problem was that it was only 1.5 miles into the race.
Julio and myself continued to follow the path around the town and along the river leading us back to the finish line. As we approached the finish line, we saw the third mile marker, which was at about 2.5 miles. As we approached finishline it was obvious that it seemed the course would be short. The finish was a little interesting as the walk had not begun and walkers had their strollers parke on the sidewalk where we were to be running.
I really need to go back and look at the race map to see if we missed a section on the course. I will attempt to do that tonight. There was one section that there were no volunteers at. I thought we went the right way but I don’t know. I will edit this if I find I was wrong.
At the finish we were given a button with the Ugly Sweater Run Logo on it as well as a card that we could use at a local cafe about a block from the finish to get hot chocolate and cookies, both were really good.
Another interesting thing about the race was that there were two groups of middle school students singing Christmas carols along the course.
Awards were given out at 5:00. If you are serious about your racing and wanting to win an award, you might be a little disappointed. I thought the awards were great, but they only went to the top runner in each division and I have never seen age divisions like they had. Age divisions were as follows: 15 and under, 16-30, 31-45, 46 and over. They also had awards for ugliest sweater. I was fortunate to come in second place overall and first in my division.
As I said, I really want to see this race succeed even more into the future. I was able to talk to those who organized the race after it was over. They were happy to accept any recommendations that I had to offer. So I do believe that this race can become even better. Their goal is for this race to be good for the serious and non serious runners alike.