This was the first year of the Ugly Sweater Run, which supports the Elkhart Community Schools and the Tolson Center which provides after school activities for kids in town. The race was run on Saturday afternoon at 4:00.
Packet pick up was offered the night before from 6-8 at the towns Ice Skating park and before the race from 2-3:30. Instead of shirts for the runners, hats were given out. For a runner with a lot of race shirts, a hat is a nice alternative.
The race started on the streets for the first quarter mile. The first recommendation I would give to the race director is to change the start. 15-20 past the starting line was the first turn. Nothing bad happened, but if it was a colder day with ice on the roads, it could have been bad. After the first quarter mile, the rest of the race was on the city bike path/wider sidewalks. All the course was paved. There were several very tight turns at the beginning as well. The course was decently marked and not too many problems with following the course. It was apparent early on that the mile markers were way off. The first mile was at .9 and the second mile mark was at 1.5. The third mile mark was at 2.5. It was hard to tell if the finishline was coming up because of the location of the mile markers, but the course did end up short. Many of us measured it as 2.7 miles. The course was not too difficult as it was mostly flat except for a couple bridges you had to cross over the river.
Following the race, you were handed a button (kind of a finishers medal) and a ticket to go to a cafe about a block away and get hot chocolate and cookies for free (very tasty).
Awards were held right after the race. Not a wide variety of awards. Age groups were 15 and under, 16-30, 31-45, and 46 and over with only 1st place receiving awards. There was also awards for best ugly sweater as well. There was also a Santa there for pictures as well as a couple reindeer.
While the course was short, I did take the time to talk with the race director following the race. They were very open to recommendations to make the event better for next year. While the course was short, I can appreciate a new race director taking recommendations well. The race director did state they want this to be an event for both serious and non serious runners alike.
While some changes are needed, I would recommend this race in the future and plan to run it again next year.