Can you imagine a crazier sight than 5000 people dressed in santa hats, beards, and t-shirts running on a Saturday morning??

This year, a friend told me about a Groupon for the race in Chicago. There’s many variants of the race throughout the US, but the Chicago race is the one that’s been featured on Rachel Ray, news, etc. I like 5ks with a twist (beer and burger run was a particular favorite!) but I was still a bit skeptical. I’ve been involved in enough “holiday themed” activities that just mean a passing wink at a holiday.

From start to finish, I was impressed by the smoothness of this operation. Pre-race communication was great with lots of packet pickup times outside of business hours. I got my packet in under 5 minutes and was pleasantly surprised at all the things included with admission! Every participant got a santa hat, santa beard, athletic santa-style shirt, and red and white long striped socks.

When I got to Soldier Field, there were a ton of photography stations so you could take photos with Rudolph, Santa, blowups, as well as a ton of vendors (Rxbar, Boxed Water) handing out food. I have to say I was most impressed with my fellow racers’ costumes though! People went ALL out. There were christmas tree costumes, reindeer, and people dressed all in jingle bells.

On race day, the DJ was killing it, pumping up the crowd and keeping everyone motivated. For an early December race in Chicago, we got a beautiful day that was about 40 degrees and Sunday. Everybody in the crowd was going crazy taking selfies, and it was a great atmosphere!

During the race, there were a ton of stations. We had been told to expect cookies and candy, but the carolers at the .75 mile point were a great treat! The kids kept our spirits high for sure 🙂 Matt’s cookies provided cookies, and we got a small cup of mini M&M’s throughout the race. My highlight was when a small child looked up at a large man wearing an Elf costume, and said to her dad with wide eyes: “Can I say hi to Buddy? is that Buddy?!” So cute!!

After the race was over, we got finisher’s medals, more protein bars and drinks, and then there was milk and cookies! (There also was free photography although I didn’t know it at the time!)

All in all, this was a great 5k race, whether you are a big runner or just looking to get into the holiday spirit.