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Dec 23, 2013

Shelby Township Jingle Bell 5k race review

Short Version
Finished in 23:25(official time); no new PR(PR is 22:18)
verall place:  36/306
AG(M40-44):  6/33
Overall Pace:  7:33/mile

Race #62!!!!

Overall, a well run race with chip timing.  Of course, the weather was a bit of an issue but it really could not have been much better given we were expecting ice.  While a couple slick spots, the race did a great job clearing the course the entire way so it was good to run it.


Long Version

Registration/packet pickup

Packet pickup was either the day before at Hanson's Running Shop in Utica or race morning.  I chose to go to Hanson's and get my packet.  Things were quite easy.  I forgot to bring my camera in and grab a picture since I was on my way somewhere and was not thinking.  All you had to do was give them your name and you got your packet.  I was in and out in about five minutes.  In addition, you received 20% off anything in the store that day as well which was nice.  I chose not to buy anything though.  That morning, the packet pickup was in the same area as the start area so it was simple to get your packet and put it back in your car if you needed to pickup that morning.

Start Area
While I got there a little after 8am with the race starting at 9am, I got a really good parking spot.  There was plenty of parking for the runners since this was not a huge race.  You can see below how close I was to the start line.  Even if you had gotten there at 8:30am, it would have not been an issue to get in.
Parking is nice and close
With the weather always unknown this time of year, it's nice to know that you could wait inside before the race and also use regular bathrooms inside as well.  The race had a couple sponsors inside as well as the packet pickup in the same area.
Can wait indoors before race
The SEMR(Southeast Michigan Runners) group agreed to meet at 8:30am for a picture before the race.  We got a picture with Buddy the Elf too!  Haha!  I've seen him at other races as well and it's a great costume for him since he also looks like Will Ferrell too.  He was a great sport about it.  Thanks Matt for posing with us!
SEMR crew with Buddy the Elf!
After that, we had some time to talk and then head out to the start area where the announcer was having everyone get into line for the race.
Getting ready to race
 As you can see, people were heading to the start line. 
Running getting in line
People are always so shy to start at the front.  I didn't want to ge in the front either but fairly close so we lined up just a little after the people in the front line.
At the start
The race did the National Anthem, which was sung by a couple girls, and was quite nice and we were ready to race!
Runners in front
Runners behind me at start
The course was a run through the school yard, field and onto Cherry Creek gofl course, through Mae Stecker Park, back through the golf course and school area and back to the finish.  I didn't really have any goal today since I wasn't sure what the course would be like given the weather.

We had it all today on the course including rain, puddles, sloshy snow, mud, dirt, grass, ice, asphalt.  You name it, we experienced it today.  It actually made it a really fun course and it was a nice layout for a 5k.  It was mostly flat and fast as well and while I did not PR today, I had a fairly decent run.
Map per Garmin
Elevation - pretty flat overall
Note: When I take pictures during the race, I don't change my pace or stop in the interest of safety.   I just keep running and I get what I can get from the pictures.   Some come out better than others but they give you a great idea of what the course is like. 

As you can see, there were puddles and a few slick spots to contend with but nothing that was a big deal - at least not at the start.
Coming out of the parking area
A little slick
 We headed out of the parking area and into the school area.

Into the school parking area
 I actually really loved running through the fields and I could not believe the race management was able to clear it like this.  A fantastic job on their part.  There were some muddy parts but I really enjoyed this.
Onto the field
We made our way through Cherry Creek Golf Course which is also a very nice area for a run.  It's not like you get to run on a golf course in the winter all the time so it was a real treat for me.
Golf Course
 As you can see, the golf course also is pretty even in the Winter months.
Cherry Creek Golf Course
We ran past the golf course clubhouse too which is really nice especially for a public course.
Golf Course clubhouse
Runners seemed to be having a great time running this, and you can see, at least where I was, that it was not that crowded.  Of course, a little behind me had more people but if you were looking for a PR, as long as you lined up properly, you could have it.
A nice view of the course
Running on the path
 Mae Stecker Park is also a nice area to run especially around the pond area.
Mae Stecker Park
A run by the pond
 We ran a circle in the park and started to make our way back to the finish area.
Heading back
2 miles!
 There were a couple fun bridges to run across even through they were a little slick to run on.
Back on the golf course
Another bridge
A river runs through it
Coming out of the golf course
 Almost to the finish line and back on the field, just a little muddy but really nice.
Back on the field
A couple muddy areas
 A mad dash to the finish line now that we were back on pavement.
Back to the parking lot
After you finished, a volunteer gave you a bottle of water if you wanted.

Aid Stations
No aid stations on the course.  While it's not that big of deal on a 5k course, it would have been nice to see an aid station in Mae Stecker park half way through the course.

Finish Area
When we got back, we could come back inside the building area and keep warm and eat.  One of the sponsors was Biggby coffee so we were able to get some free coffee after the race.
Warm inside
Free Biggby Coffee
 The race also had water, bagels and bananas after for the runners which was your standard finish line food.
Bagels and Bananas / Water
It was nice to hang out a  little and talk as well and eat and drink.  Plenty of room for all the runners after the finish.  The pictures below were when we were leaving so the majority of runners had finished the course.
Runners socializing
Nice and warm area
For your entry of $20, you received a bag with your packet, a chip timed course that was cleared quite nice.  It was also cleared of all traffic so a closed course.  In addition, you received a cotton T-shirt.  My preference is not to get a plain white shirt.  It's nice to get a colored shirt if you are going to receive a cotton one.  I saw last years shirt which was red.
Race packet with bag
Shirt front
Shirt back
The race management did a good job with all aspects of organization.  A really nice touch was the race e-mailed everyone very early to let them know that the race was still moving forward given the prediction was for ice.  It was nice to see that they mentioned it so people did not need to worry.  Volunteers were directing you where you needed to park, the course was well organized and cleared, the start and finish line was quite organized.  Excellent job!

The course and timing was managed by Hanson's who did a nice job overall on that.  They did an excellent job at clearing the course so it was safe for runners.  It was a bonus for me since the course is only 2 miles from my home.  It was a hometown feeling and it was not huge which is nice not to fight a crowd all the time.  Parking was very easy, the volunteers were helpful and you always knew where to go for anything. The race price was reasonable and it was well organized.  It was for some good charitable causes as well which is always a bonus.  It's definitely a race I would do again and a nice one to pick for a December race.

Have a great day and....Keep Running!!!!

Note:  I was not compensated in any way for this post. All opinions are my own.


  1. Looks like fun to run in that weather!!!

  2. That looks like a lot of fun. We didn't do any Christmas themed races...or any races in December for that matter this year. But where is your festive apparel? :)

    1. Haha. I left my Santa suit at home. Yeah, I'm not that guy.

  3. Well done! That is a good time in the cold. Thanks for the photos, I don't see much snow and have never run in it. Have a wonderful Christmas!

  4. It's impressive they cleared the course so well. Nice time and consistent splits, especially considering the somewhat messy conditions. Merry Christmas!