Saturday, December 26, 2015

Ugly Sweater Run 2015

This was my second year doing the Ugly Sweater Run Washington DC, which is actually located in Maryland at the National Harbor. This is a race series that holds events in various US cities. Scot and I ran it in 2013. Then, like now, it was a little too warm for sweaters, but we had fun. This year I ran the race with Rachael. Or, I should say that we walked it with a few spurts of running. It got a little hot to run in the sunshine wearing wool blend sweaters. It was also an untimed race, so who cared? And as we found out from our Garmin stats, the course was decidedly short of the advertised 5K. Still, we got our money's worth with the fun ugly sweater themed hat, and the beer ticket good for one Samuel Adams or Angry Orchard cider. And no, we didn't stop at just one drink; many runners gave away their drink tickets, so we were all set for a fun morning.

The Ugly Sweater run registration fee is about $40, but there's really no need to pay that much. If you watch Groupon and Living Social, or even the race's own mailing list, there are discounts to be had. We got a two-for-one deal. Packet pick-up was at the Sports Authority at Potomac Yard in Alexandria VA. This pick-up was a much better option than waiting for on-site packet pick-up the morning of the race. The packet was no more than the hat, the bib (sans timing chip) and a coupon from Sports Authority.

The hat we received instead of a t-shirt

The race (I probably shouldn't use that term as there were very few people going even moderately fast) was Saturday morning in early Deember. I picked up Rachael and we drove the very short distance across the Woodrow Wilson Bridge to the National Harbor. Traffic was very backed up getting off the bridge. I didn't remember it being as bad in 2013. Maybe we left earlier that year. We were thinking that we wouldn't make the starting line by 9:00 at the snail's pace we were moving, and we didn't. But that was OK. As we pulled into the National Harbor to find parking, we saw some people already running or walking the course, but many more, like us, were still driving. We parked and got to the starting line and learned they were letting people go in waves, and we were nowhere near the last ones. We jumped into the corral and headed off with the next wave.

With Rachael and Magenta the Road Trip Flamingo before the race

We didn't miss a thing; all these people were also waiting for the next wave to start

We started running at first, because that's what we do, but then we realized just how hot we were going to get in those sweaters. At the first aid station we were served hot chocolate. There was no way to run with that, so we walked for a while and just didn't care. We had fun looking at the other participants in their sweaters and silly costumes. It was a nice day.

Drinking hot chocolate at the first aid station
The race photographer caught me during one of my rare spurts of running

About halfway through the course we came upon some hills to run down. We took the gift of gravity and ran for a while. It was difficult to do because we were weaving around walkers and baby strollers and kids, but we didn't care. And then we came to the last stretch along the river trail. It was very narrow and difficult to go more than two people abreast, so we just walked it. And came into the finish line well short of three miles.


Post-race pics

The line for the ID check to get into the beer garden was long, but once we got in, the line for the actual beer or cider was short. Just like in 2013, there were different varieties of Sam Adams and Angry Orchard. Much better drinks than many races. We stood around drinking in the sun on a warm December morning wearing ugly sweaters and carrying a flamingo. We took pictures of some of the other people in their outfits, and started up a conversation or two.

It's Ralphie from A Christmas Story

Then we came across a couple with an adorable little chihuahua named Jengo, and Rachael was smitten. We talked with them until last call. I think Rachael just didn't want to give them their dog back.

With our new beer drinking friends

Rachael did not want to give up Jengo

After the beer garden closed, we went over to the human sized inflatable snow globes. The lines were really long all morning, but now there was no line, so we took our turn. To get into the globe, some of the air has to come out. Once you're in, they zip it up and you wait for it to inflate again. Meanwhile, they tell you to stay down so you don't fall while the bottom of the globe is all wobbly. It was pretty funny. I took some pics from inside the globe while one of the volunteers took pics of us from outside.

Selfie laying down inside the snow globe as it is still inflating
And there we are

I'd say we definitely got our money's worth and had a fun morning at a not-so-serious run. We then did a little window shopping and wandering around National Harbor. Rachael bought a fun shirt she had seen before at the Peeps shop. Then we had lunch at the Granite City Brewery. And more beer, of course.

The Ugly Sweater Run is not an event for people who are serious runners only. They would be very disappointed that the race is not timed, and that most of the participants know nothing about race etiquette. But that's not what this race is about. It's about being a little active and a lot silly, about showing your holiday spirit, and, for us, enjoying some libations. You'll like this race if you appreciate it for what it is and run it with fun people. Happy Holidays, all!



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