The 2015 Santa Hustle took place on a chilly but sunny Saturday morning in December. We've had some pleasantly mild weather in Wisconsin so there was no snow on the ground, and while there was a bit of a breeze coming off of the lake, it was just lovely weather for a run. The race starts at Veterans Park on Milwaukee's beautiful lakefront and travels up and back Lincoln Memorial Drive. It is a flat, easy course with plenty great scenery to look at.
The race had two aid stations, but these weren't your usual water/gatorade stops. The first aid station offered chocolate chip cookies and the second aid station had M&Ms. Super fun!
PRE-RACE: I was running a little late and worried about missing the start time as I still had to find parking and go through packet pickup. Fortunately, my worries were unfounded. There's plenty of parking around Veterans Park, and packet pickup was smooth. Despite running late I ended up with plenty of time to enjoy the fun Christmas themed selfie stations, visit the live reindeer, and enjoy the pre-race Christmas music.
RACE SWAG: The swag, the swag, the swag! This 5K really outdid itself on the race swag. All runners got a super cute red half-zip jacket, Santa hat and beard. Most wore the half-zip, hat and beard for the run, which meant that the race was a huge sea of Santas running down the street. With over 1000 participants, it was really a sight to see. Some people wore some really creative costumes, too. I saw quite a few in Christmas colored tutus, a number of really nice looking Santa costumes, a gingerbread man, a Christmas tree, and my favorite: a really convincing Buddy Elf. The costumes and general Christmas cheer made for a really fun race atmosphere.
MOST MEMORABLE MOMENTS: Running back from the turnaround point and seeing a huge red wave of Santas running was just fantastic. Trying to eat a cookie while maintaining a 9:00/mile pace was a new challenge for me. Free bacon at the end of the race was pretty cool too.
WHO I WOULD RECOMMEND THIS RACE TO: This is an event for runners and nonrunners alike. There were plenty of walkers in this race, and there was absolutely no pressure to go out fast or even run at all (although you certainly could if you wanted to). I think this would be a really fun race to get a group of friends together for - runners and nonrunners alike - to go do before heading out to a nice brunch. It would make for a really fun, memorable pre-holiday get-together.
In all, this was a fun race experience. It was well-organized and offered great race swag. This isn't a race for a PR - this is a race to run just to have some holiday themed fun.