The Fifth Annual Jingle Bell Run 5k started and finished at the Wrightsville Beach Museum of History on Saturday, Dec. 14, and the runners were there with bells on.
The crowd that donned festive garb and the spirit of the holidays was larger than expected.
“There are more people here than there have ever been in its history,” said John Sideris of the Wrightsville Beach Longboard Association, which sponsored the race. “It started out with about 250 five years ago and we have 620 today. We surpassed the dollar goal, blew it out of the water; it all benefits the museum.”
Ryan Shafer was pleased with his time, finishing in fine form, sporting a blue Christmas sweater, noting that the Jingle Bell Run served dually to place him directly into the spirit of the holidays and as part of his training regimen.
“I’m deciding if I’m training for my last half marathon or not,” Shafer said. “Honestly, it seemed like a cause that was pretty solid going towards the Wrightsville Beach Museum. Just the camaraderie of everyone getting together and dressing up in Christmas attire is great. I wasn’t in the holiday spirit until I got here but seeing the smiling and sweaty faces is pretty awesome. I’m not sure how I didn’t burn up wearing a sweater, but the run was pretty good.”
A buffet of fruit and other refreshments were housed under a tent and personalized dog tags were available to be made thanks to sponsor Parkway Subaru. The winners earned a wreath and Erin Hogston, the top overall female finisher, said that the festive mood compensated for the wind.
“The run was good but super windy. I love it, though, because it gets everybody in the holiday spirit,” Hogston said. “I won it last year, so I said I’ve got to come back and win a wreath again.”
The full story with photos will be printed on Thursday, Dec. 19.