By HEATHER BRILEY-SCHMIDT
Winter equals warm fires, cups of hot chocolate and relaxing in cozy clothes. It’s also a time to run and to get active. There are many opportunities to workout while helping good cause during the winter season. Running for the holidays isn’t the only way to help and get in shape. Many races kick-off the New Year with a bang this January such as the Janboree Frosty 5-kilometer held in Waukesha, Wis., or the Samson Stomp in Milwaukee, Wis., which helps the Milwaukee County Zoo raise funds.
Get ready for some holiday cheer: Stuff the Sleigh 5k
Burning holiday calories and helping families in need has never been so easy. Stuff the Sleigh is a 5k run that collects food for the Racine County Food Bank. It is held on Nov. 30 in Racine.
“We have quite a few benefits of having our race at this time of the year,” said Lauren Stromberg, event director.” In particular, there are not as many runs as other times of the year (ie. spring, fall, summer) and the market is not as saturated. It’s a festive time when people are looking to stay healthy and in shape.”
Cold, dreary weather is not an issue with the planners. They are already expecting a turnout of about 4,500 participants.
“The atmosphere of our races is holiday fun,” Stromberg said. “We have festive music playing throughout the venue, reindeer on site, outrageous costumes, large Santa, reindeer and snowman inflatables, etc. People are pumped up and excited. Our participants often sign up for the experience rather than hitting their personal record. They enjoy the cookies and candy that are on the course, dressing up and staying healthy by running with their friends and family. It’s a great event!”
Hear the sleigh bells: The Jingle Bell Run/Walk
On Dec. 7, the Jingle Bell Run/ Walk is held in two locations, LaCrosse and Racine. It is ideal for families and for friends who want to start off the winter season with activity.
“I do a lot of runs around the year, but the Jingle Bell Run is one of my favorite races,” said Jill Stark, an avid runner from Milwaukee. “It has a really nice family feel to it and the cheery holiday atmosphere makes the cold not so bad.”
Winter flurries in not a deterrent for the participants.
“I think a huge draw for our participants is that it is a winter race and has a holiday theme,” said Rachel Orlopp, spokesperson for the Jingle Bell Run. “There are so many 5k events in the area and those two things set us apart. Additionally, the Jingle Bell Run/Walk is a fundraiser for the Arthritis Foundation. It’s a great way to kick-off the season of giving by participating or donating to the event…During the pre-race registration period, we see the number of people register spike when it snows.”
Walking is allowed for the 5k, though the race is known to be competitive. Chips which runners or walkers hold onto record the racers’ times. They are distributed so participants can see their improvement throughout the season.
“I keep my tracker (chips) from every race I do to see if I can improve my time next year, Stark said.” I find this race to be harder than other races I do because of the cold and snow but it makes it that much more rewarding mentally and physically when I pass the finish line.”
Milwaukee is holding its second annual Santa Hustle 5k Run/Walk on Dec. 8. This is a charitable cause because all proceeds go to the Marine Corps’s Toys for Tots, a foundation that collects new or lightly used toys and gives them to children in need for Christmas.
“Each runner has different reasons, different goals… they come together for many reasons that bind relationships,” said Patrick Flynn, spokesperson for the Santa Hustle. “They participate in a wide array of community events that help others. That’s what we do and that’s what we are about!”
A run/walk is also easy for any level of athlete because you choose your pace. There is no obligation to run the whole time so everyone feels comfortable. You also get a free shirt and Santa hat to run in, making it a more memorable and festive workout.
The Santa Hustle coordinators are expecting an average of 200 to 300 people for the 5k trek.
“Fifty degrees seems to be the ideal temperature,” Flynn said. “But cold weather does not seem to deter runners as much as it does spectators. Runners have a passion, dress appropriately and unless it’s below 20 degrees, not much stops them.”
These are just a handful of races that anyone can participate in to keep in shape during the flurry months. Check out Runningintheusa.com, which has all official races on its website and links to more information on upcoming runs during 2014.
Event Director I Adrenaline Sports Management
770 Industrial Drive I Suite A I Cary IL I 60013
phone: 847-829-4518 I fax: 847-829-4577
Community Development Specialist
(414) 239-6174 (Direct)
Arthritis Foundation Upper Midwest Region
10427 W Lincoln Ave, Suite 1300
West Allis, WI 53227
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