The Christmastown Dash 8K is an annual race that takes place through Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, Virginia. Flat Out Events, a local race company, produces this race.
This is a race I’ve been wanting to do since I moved to the Hampton Roads area, it’s just that I would always forget about signing up for it until the registration fee was a bit too high and would just say “oh well, next year!” Well, throughout the year the health system sponsors several races in the area and actually offers a limited number of entries to their employees and this year, I finally got to do the Christmastown Dash! After donating $15 to the Riverside Foundation, I got a special code and registered.
There were actually a few packet pickup options in the area, making it easy for most everyone to conveniently pickup their bibs and shirts before race day (no race day packet pickup offered). There were two location/time options in Virginia Beach, one in Newport News on Friday and one in Williamsburg on Saturday. Packet pickup was a breeze-I was in and out within five minutes. Included in the race packet was: your race bib, a unisex long-sleeved tech shirt, a free one-day pass to Busch Gardens for spring 2016, a 50% off Christmastown admission coupon, a local holiday happenings magazine, a coupon for a grilled Chic-Fil-A sandwich, advertisements for upcoming races and a packet of instant cappuccino.
You had to be inside the Busch Gardens parking lot by 8am and parking was free (which is great-there is a ton of it too!). We arrived around 730am and walked around the start area to warm up a bit, look at all the costumes and watch the kid’s run (a half mile run). There were plenty of porta-pots and a few booths set up to stop by to kill time.
By the time the start rolled around, I was ready to run! The 8K started at 830am. There were three different corrals so runners could line up according to their pace and they were supposed to take off in one minute intervals. I’m not sure what happened but it seemed like everyone just took off at once and boy was it crowded at first. The crowd did thin out between miles one and two and I settled into a comfortable pace. My one goal (pace-wise) was to run all of my miles sub-10 so I had to do some weaving at between runners and walkers at first but it wasn’t horrible.
The course was nice, though, the first part was so boring running through the parking lots. The real fun came once we entered the park where everything was decked out in Christmas decorations and holiday tunes were playing. I had never been to Busch Gardens before so I didn’t know what to expect, but it was hilly–but the scenery made for a good distraction. There were some bridges we had to cross that were slippery with what looked like rock salt, which seemed a bit dangerous to me, but there were volunteers out there reminding runners to be careful. One of the bridges was lined with smiling Marines giving high fives to all of the runners, which I thought was nice. Before I knew it, we were headed back out to the parking lot for last mile or so of the run, then ran downhill to the finish line.
I collected my cute little gingerbread medal (that is also an ornament), grabbed a banana, water and a bag of pretzels and headed back to the car.
A note on the elevation: it's not by any means difficult, however, if you are used to training on a flat/non hilly road/path, you will notice there are hills within Busch Gardens. Just an FYI.