There are races and then there are crazy fun races, and Sunday’s Jingle Bell Jog 5K was, without doubt, crazy fun! I’m still smiling whenever I think of over a thousand Santa-clad runners heading down the parkway and can’t help but wonder what people driving by must have thought. It was a sight to behold, and I’m so thankful my sweet husband was willing to join us as our official paparazzi and captured all those Santa runners doing their thing!

Packet pickup at our local Potomac River Running Store on Saturday was a breeze and I even did a little Christmas shopping while there. A crowd of wannabe Santa runners breezed in just before I left, but I managed to find a quiet corned to snap a quick picture of my Jingle Bell Jog 5K bib and Santa suit. Yes, we were given Santa suits instead of the traditional race shirt, and apparently I’m built like a 13-15 year old boy. HaHa!


Over the weekend the temperature dropped so it was only about 30° when I arrived at Erin’s house about thirty minutes before the race started. Luckily, the colder temperatures helped keep me from getting too hot in my long sleeved Target pajama top. After parking my car and saying hello to my favorite little guy (Erin’s son), she and I took off for an easy warm-up run to meet our friends.

With perfect timing, Bill arrived as we approached our planned MRTT pre-race meet-up spot and he snapped his first of many pictures for us.


Photo credit: Bill

After pictures, and with about ten minutes to spare, I ran over to find the porta potties and with only one person waiting, I got in and out in a flash. On my way over I stopped long enough to compare waist sizes with Santa – his joke, not mine.


Next the two Santas got a picture with their favorite elf !


Photo credit: Bill

Bill suggested we get a jump picture in in front of the starting line – you can bet that he didn’t have to ask us twice. Erin did the 3 – 2 – 1 countdown and four of us were slow to respond to her count!


Photo credit: Bill

Orange Theory was on hand to lead the warm-up. Have you ever seen so many lunging Santas?


Photo credit: Bill

After seeding myself a few rows back from the front of the pack, I looked up, saw Bill, and waved. After a countdown starting at ten, we were off and running!


Photo credit: Bill

I crossed the starting line with my MRTT friends Sarah and Sara, but as soon as we got out of the crowd we each settled into our own paces, and I watched as Sara pulled farther and farther ahead until she eventually disappeared.


Photo credit: Bill

By the time Bill took this picture, my friends and I were out of sight, yet the sea of Santas just kept flowing out of the starting area. About a half mile into the race, I laughed as several cars driving down the other side of the parkway tooted their horns at us. Can you even imagine seeing this spectacle heading toward you early on a Sunday morning as you’re heading home from church or the donut shop?


Photo credit: Bill

Sara, AKA Mrs. Claus, was the first of our friends to run past Bill at around the two-mile mark on her way to winning 1st Place Overall Female.


Photo credit: Bill

A little over a minute later Bill zoomed in on me with my sleeves pushed up and mittens in my left hand ready to toss in his direction. I’d warmed up nicely and felt that I was dressed just about perfectly at this point. Had it been a warmer day, I would have been struggling in that shirt.

I knew I was near the front of all the females, but not sure exactly where – I later learned that I was in fifth place overall. I had my sights on first place in my age group and felt that I was in pretty good shape to earn it. Early on I had passed the only lady who appeared near my age, hadn’t been passed by any females, and didn’t recall seeing any other middle aged women in front of me as we waited for the race to start.


Photo credit: Bill

Next Erin and Gayle glided past Bill showing off their elf shirts, and looking like they were having so much fun. This was Gayle’s first race since having her baby about three months ago and she and Erin had a lot of catching up to do!


Photo credit: Bill

Happy to have been a part of such a fun race, my friends and I proudly showed off our medals! According to my Garmin, I’d run 3.19 miles in 24:50 (7:47 average pace) My splits were:

  • Mile 1 – 7:48
  • Mile 2 – 7:54
  • Mile 3 – 7:54
  • Final .19 mile – 1:15 (6:35 pace)

The MapMyRun course map on the Jingle Bell Jog 5K website showed the race as being 3.2 miles so I wasn’t surprised when my Garmin showed 3.19 miles…


Photo credit: Bill

We saw several dogs dressed in their Christmas best, and I happened to chat with Caprica’s humans for a few minutes. Not only was Caprica proudly wearing her medal, but she still had her #1 bib pinned to the back of her Santa dress.


The post-race refreshments included huge boxes of Russell Stover chocolates, Christmas cookies, and candy canes as well as typical race foods like oranges and bananas. There were plenty of water bottles, but no hot chocolate – something I really would have loved!


By the time Sara took a bite of her banana it was frozen and we laughed at the funny look on her face!


Photo credit: Erin

As our friends started heading home, Sara, Erin, and I stayed for the awards ceremony. We were freezing cold and unfortunately I’d given my hand warmers to a volunteer along the course once my fingers warmed up. Erin and I bundled up in her Mylar blanket and tried to keep each other warm.


Photo credit: Sara

Just as we thought they were getting ready to hold the awards ceremony, they started the children’s fun run. We watched the cutest little Santas from about one to about eight years old run in complete chaos and it was hysterical! My pictures didn’t turn out very well because my frozen hands were shaking so much.

After enough shivering to do me all winter, the awards ceremony started and I was pleasantly surprised to learn that I’d won 1st Place Overall Masters Female! My official time was 24:50 (8:00 pace using 5K as the distance).


Photo credit: Erin

As I mentioned earlier, Sara won 1st Place Overall Female with a time of 23:12 (7:28 pace)!


Photo credit: Erin

We also gathered our friends Lupe and Sarah’s medals for winning first place in their age groups. Overall our MRTT chapter had a great day and we couldn’t have been prouder of everyones efforts!

Immediately after the awards ceremony the organizers held a raffle. Since runners had to be present to win and the crowd was so sparse, we decided to brave the cold for a few more minutes. Our odds proved very good and Sara, Erin, and I each snagged gift certificates. Mine was for $20 to Potomac River Running!


Back home in the warmth of our family room, I snapped closeups of my medal and plaque.


For a first time event in our area, this race went off without a snag. There were lots of volunteers along the course and they even had a water stop – something you don’t always see at a 5K. I loved that most people were dressed in their Santa suits or red shirts, making for such a fun visual snaking through the community. There were runners and walkers of all ages and abilities, including many families. I’d highly recommend this race if it comes to a community near you!


  • Questions:
  • What’s the most unusual item you’ve received at packet pick-up instead of a race shirt?
  • Have you run a Jingle Bell Jog 5K? ~ So far they’re only in Florida and Virginia.
  • Have you run a holiday themed race? If so, what was it called?