This race has been on my list of "must runs" for a while now, and I FINALLY got to do it! After a very stressful 2 hour drive from Columbus to Cleveland on race morning (read: I woke up later than planned and was pushing it to arrive on time - but I made it with a little time to spare), it was time to get my Christmas Story on!
PARKING - First up, getting downtown for this race was MUCH smoother than I anticipated. I thought there would be big traffic issues and I was dead wrong. Got to CLE with maybe 30 minutes to spare before race start and had no problem finding a place to park. In fact, I was able to park in one of my go-to locations that my wife and I use when we travel to downtown CLE for just about anything.
PACKET PICK-UP - Walked over to the Renaissance Hotel to pick up my packet which, like the parking, seemed like it would be much worse than it was. The line to get into the room where runners collected their bibs wasn't TOO long, but it definitely wasn't short. The saving grace was truly the fact that race staff was moving with the quickness! Still had some time yet before the start, so I headed out to Public Square to meet up with Amy and Jackey - fellow BibRave Pros!
THE RACE - The race itself is pretty simple when you get right down to it. The 5k is a point-to-point and the 10k (the race I ran) is an out-and-back. The race starts at Cleveland's Public Square and follows a pretty straightforward course to the Christmas Story House. What really gets your attention on the course - besides the two bridges with AMAZING views - are the fantastic costumes! So. Many. Bunny. Onesies!
MEDAL & SWAG - The medal is pretty neat and captures perfectly the "Oh Fudge!" sequence from the movie. The medal is almost covers my palm completely, so it's not small! The SWAG for this race included a red long sleeve cotton shirt in addition to a green drawstring bag. The shirt is nice, but personally would have preferred a dri-fit or other tech-type shirt. Aside from that, the random LED light bulb we were given in the swag bag was unique, but hey - free bulb! One of the best perks of the race itself is that each runner gets free admission to the Christmas Story House & Museum on the day of the race (a $13.00 value). This perk is cool, but be ready for a LONG, LONG line on race day. You're almost better off collecting your bib early in the week and visiting the House beforehand (if possible?).
TRANSPORTATION - the organizers are very good about ensuring those of us running the 10k had a way to get back to the House if we wanted as well as making sure the 5k'ers could get back to their cars downtown. HOWEVER, again, LINES. There are a LOT of people in a tight neighborhood with not a massive amount of buses (but a decent amount) all trying to do the same thing at the same time. Have a backup plan to go either direction. I ended up walking back to downtown Cleveland with my friends Amy G, Jeremy, and Jeff and their dogs Bucky and Einstein.
OVERALL, this race more than lived up to my expectations and provided a great experience. The things I enjoyed significantly outweighed anything I might not have - and that's a good thing. I would definitely recommend that you check out this race, especially if you're a fan of A Christmas Story!