It’s time to take a short break from Las Vegas to celebrate with some holiday cheer. On Thursday I saw a message on Facebook from Road Runner Sports about a 12ks of Christmas race taking place this morning. I was planning to do a long walk this weekend anyway, so I made a last minute decision to participate. It was the first year for this race and the tagline was “A celebration of Health, Fitness and the Joy of Christmas”.
I left the house at 8:15am to drive down to Gilbert, AZ and arrived around 9am. This is the “festival” area where they had registration, a Christmas Bazaar, Santa’s Pet Village, and Santa’s Food Court set up. Race day registration was $35 and included a santa hat and finisher pin.
After registering, I walked around a bit. At the Road Runner Sports booth I was excited to pick up a free pair of Asics socks. I looked around at the home-made arts and crafts which were cute, but I wasn’t really looking to buy anything. The Maricopa County Animal Care & Control was the beneficiary of the event and there were a bunch of pet rescue groups there. It’s hard to get a sense of scale, but these dogs were huge. I don’t know how they can stand the summer heat with all that fur.
After looking around I headed back to my car to drop off my goody bag and get ready for the race. It always takes me at least a couple tries to get my race number pinned on straight. I had just enough time for a bathroom stop, then it was time for the race to start promptly at 10am. I was glad I decided to leave my jacket in the car because the sun came out right as we crossed the start line. There were a few rolling hills at the start, but then the rest of the course was flat. It was neat seeing the sea of red santa hats spread out along the course.
One of the highlights of the race was the carolers located at every kilometer. I tried to wave and say thanks to all of the volunteers for their efforts.
This lady in the purple Team In Training shirt looked like an experienced race walker. I used her as my “pacer” for most of the race. Even though I never caught up to her, I tried to keep her in sight for as long as possible.
For being the first year of the event, the race was extremely well organized. There were three times where the course crossed the street and there were police officers directing traffic at each intersection.
I was amused by all the different animals I saw along the course.
Around where I reached the two mile point, the first place leader was already on his way back.
These carolers were at the 4k mark. Notice the timing mat? Big bonus points to the race organizers for providing 4k and 8k splits.
It was great to see Santa out at this water stop. Because of the way the course was laid out, we passed this water stop three times.
The halfway point!
These kids were so cute!
As part of the race, there were awards given out for best costume. I didn’t stay long enough to find out who won, but I bet this guy was definitely a top contender.
I think these two are wearing “kangaroo” shoes. I’ve seen them in action at Disney, but I’ve never seen anyone run in them before. I never did figure out why they were wearing them for this race.
I loved that these girls sung AND danced. They were still so full energy and enthusiasm, even for those of us at the back of the pack.
I decided I couldn’t let the whole race go by without getting a photo of myself. So the third time I passed Santa I stopped for a photo.
Why did the chicken cross the road? (Hey, when you’re walking for almost two hours, you have to find ways to keep entertained.)
Just one kilometer left. Again, the carolers and volunteers at this event were all terrific. It was so great that they stayed right up until the end.
The end of the course wound around the finish area. Usually when I’m running a race, I find this annoying. But today it was good motivation to keep up the pace until the finish.
The finish line! (I actually took this photo earlier in the morning before the race started.)
I’m very happy with how I did. My official time was 1:47:59 which is a 14:29 pace. My 4k split was 34:59 and my 8k split was 1:10:05, so I stayed pretty consistent for the first two thirds. I knew I slowed down just a bit towards the end but overall it was a great walk.
There was a nice spread of refreshments at the end… plenty of bananas, oranges, pretzels, cookies, bottled water, Clif Quench, and some type of energy drink.
Plus some yummy ice cream!
These ladies were nice enough to pose for me with their awesome elf costumes.
Santa handed out awards to the winners.
Before heading home, I stopped for a quick visit with the beagles. If I ever get a dog, it will probably be a beagle.
I’m very glad I decided to go to the 12ks of Christmas. It was a great way to start the day and much more fun than walking on my own. It really put me in the holiday spirit. And while there was no medal today, I did get a new pin for my collection.
One of these days I’m going to have to figure out what to do with all my pins!