ugly-sweater-logo2014The Ugly Sweater Run is a holiday-themed 5K that isn’t meant to be taken too seriously. This event is sincerely all in good fun and in the spirit of the season, and I had no plans to run fast or get a PR. I had a lot more fun that I anticipated! After being sick for over a week and unable to get any workouts in, I was antsy for some activity.

Registration and Cost: If this race is coming near you, check online for deals. My friend (who registered my bib) got a BOGO 1/2 off deal, and when she registered it was only like $25 per person. Day-of registration was $50 (!!!).

Packet Pick-Up: Easy bib pick-up, with separate tables for swag bag pick-up and 21+ wristbands (we skipped that last one, and thankfully, because that had the longest line of them all and we didn’t need it anyway).

Weather: It was a little chilly, even with the late 11am start time — about 40 degrees but sunny!

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Course: We started on Federal Street right outside PNC Park in a chute of inflatable candy canes. The course turned down General Robinson towards the trail off River Road, then on the North Shore Trail and out towards the Science Center. We turned back at that point on the trail and ran back on the trail towards PNC Park into the concessions/gate area. The course was most crowded (and a little annoying, because of the lack of runner etiquette) when runners were in both directions before approaching the turn-around on the trail. The organizers did have a tape separating the two “lanes” of traffic so it wasn’t a mass cluster.

Charity: This series of races supports Save the Children when selecting a special ticket option at registration.

Fans and Experience: As advertised, I was hoping for more holiday music and hot chocolate on the race course, but they still did a great job of integrating holiday fun into the event. Nearly everyone on that race had some sort of holiday-themed attire or accessories and there were a LOT of ugly sweaters in the group. People really got creative. Noted for next time, for sure!

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Finish Line: There wasn’t a course posted, but I was surprised to learn (upon asking a volunteer) that we were finishing inside PNC Park. At the Finish Line, any runners over 21 got a free beer and there was PLENTY of hot chocolate. While I was originally wanting the latter, I got super excited when I saw tall cans of Angry Orchard. HOORAY!

Medals and Swag: No medals but everyone got these sweet fleecy knit hats. Probably the most unique item I’ve received from doing a race!

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Bonus: Did I mention beer and cider (and hot chocolate, yes) at the finish line? Pro-tip: I didn’t get a 21+ wristband prior to the race but showing my ID at the beverage tables afterward was accepted (and I didn’t waste time in that line before the race). I don’t know if this is protocol for all of their races but BRING YOUR ID regardless.

After Party: The area outside of the park on Federal had a bunch of photo opps with Sam Adams’ cutouts and inflatable snow globes that you get inside of (!!!) and fake fireplace backdrops. BRGR and Franktuary had their food trucks set up here too. We were allowed to take our drinks outside the park, which was a fun bonus in extending the holiday “cheer.”

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OVERALL
The Great: Well, ’tis the season, of course.
The Good: Angry Orchard cider!
The Bad: People who don’t know race etiquette. RAWR.
The Ugly: There was a lot of conflicting information before this race — dates were wrong on the FB event page; the start line location said Waterfront in one spot and PNC Park on another; and there was a BUNCH of spam posts on their FB page to weed through (someone needs a social manager). I was anticipating a mess of a race because of this, but it ended up being pretty well-organized.

RESULTS
Uh, I’m not sure actually. I realized that I forgot to stop my watch after I had already grabbed my cider and took a few pictures. If I deduct those couple minutes (and base off my splits), I probably finished somewhere around the 31-minute mark. Though there were timing mats at the start and finish, I couldn’t find a results page/info anywhere. See above needed social manager.

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