Race Review: Ugly Sweater 5k

With Christmas coming up, the end of the school semesters for the kids and wife, and work picking up, atvtines it has become more difficult to do my race reviews. Which is the reason why this one is about a week later than I would have liked it to be.  

On December 3, the Elkhart Education Foundation hosted its second annual Ugly Sweater Run.  All proceeds went to the Elkhart Education Foundation (donations are made by the EEF to Elkhart Community Schools) and to the Tucson Center (an after school program).  While my kids do not attend school in the Elkhart Community School district, Tina is a teacher at Elkhart Memorial High School.  That was probably the main reason why we decided to run this race again.  Last year I would say was less than impressive. The course was well short, and I would say was more geared to the non-runner.

Registration for the 2016 race, I believe opened in October at an eye opening registration fee of $35.  I should mention that for each adult that enters the race, you get to register a child (14 and under) for free.  For a family, not a bad deal, but for a single person, this is just way to high.  Then around Thanksgiving, they started advertising 25% discount codes for registration. A good rule of thumb is that you never offer a lower price than what those who registered early have already paid.  It’s frustrating to those who have already committed.  

As I said earlier, race day was on Saturday, December 3rd in downtown Elkhart.  One thing I don’t care for about this race is that it is an afternoon race.  I prefer morning races, but that’s just me.  The race began at 4:00PM with packet pickup starting at 2:00. There were opportunities to listen to the high school choir groups sing before the race or for you and your kids to get a picture with Santa.  

The swag at this race, for the second year in a row was a toboggan hat.  With the race being called the “Ugly Sweater Run,” I think they are missing a real opportunity here in not making an ugly sweater race shirt.  I think it would drawl more attention from people wearing it in the community than a hat.  Also advertised was that you received a ticket for free ice skating.  What was not clear was that it could only be used that day and ice skating was free to anyone, not just those who ran, so this wasn’t a perk at all to running the race.  

The race started on time.  The course was changed this year but did feature much of the same areas.  It used a few roads, but mostly bike paths.  Only 2 complaints about the course: there are a lot of turns and it was a little long this year.  I will, however takeva course that is a little long rather than way short.  Some of the other highlights of the course include carolers from Elkhart middle schools at a few locations along the course.  The course was very well marked.  There were no aid stations, but with it being a December race, it really isn’t needed. 

For me personally, I am coming off of a busy fall racing schedule. In November I ran a marathon, 15k and 4 mile race.  My legs have felt better.  Expectations were not high.  I finished 6th overall and was the first in my division.  The age divisions are weird though.  They were 14 and unde, 15-29, 30-44, and 45-over. There were 170 who finished the 5k (even more who finished the 1 mile walk). With a race that size, it seems that the age divisions should be pretty standard.  The awards were the same as in 2015. 

Obviously it’s too early to plan my winter races for 2017 but I am on the fence on this one.  I am just not sure it’s worth it.  I would say it’s not worth $35 to enter.  I think anything over $20 for early registration is too much for what you get. Probably the only reason why I did run this race was because of where the proceeds went.  

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