The Medford Jingle Bell Run had another successful year with 663 runners at this year’s race. Double the number from 2014! Congrats to Judy Lonergan and her race committee!
Now in their 3rd year the committee and volunteers have really hit their pace. For the first time the PTOs at each school in Medford were involved. Each school was able to raise money with the race and each school or club at the High School will receive a proportional amount of the total raised.
For the past two years clubs and teams at the High School were involved. Extending the opportunity to all schools really enhanced the community involvement and contributed to the surge in the number of runners.
As any parent knows, it takes a lot of work and time to raise money with bake sales and other fund raisers. Combining the efforts of the Jingle Bell Committee with efforts of each PTO helped these groups raise more money for the kids than they would have been able to otherwise.
Jingle Bell Run
Saturday was a cold and wet day. With rain in the forecast and cloudy skies in the morning, we were worried race day registrations would be low. But the same day registration table was very busy. In the hour before the race Medford City Hall was packed with runners picking up their numbers and registering for the race.
Around 10:15 the call went out for runners to head to the starting line. I was there with My First 5K medals and had to pack up my table at the last minute and head out for the race. Fortunately my friend Jessica Crispin was running the race and was kind enough to help me lug my stuff out to my car.
Most of the runners were already lined up. Jessica and I moved through the crowd to get closer to the start. Jessica did not plan to run very fast, but knew she was going to be faster than most other runners. She finished at 28:02 for 104th over all and 9th in her age group. Nice run!
We realized the National Anthem was being played just as the last trumpet notes were ringing out. A few moment later the crowd surged forward as the race began.
Being so far back from the front it took me about 45 seconds to get to the starting line and then I was stuck in the crowd for another few minutes. About a quarter-mile down Riverside Ave I began to get some room to move. By the time we took the right onto Freedom Way I was able to negotiate the turn the way I wanted to.
We ran past the schools and behind Hormel Stadium. Just before the turn onto the bike path, we hit mile one. Somehow I had managed a 7:23 pace. On the path things slowed down and between the puddles and other runners, things became congested.
We looped the paths behind the schools. While heading back towards Mile 2 I saw a little boy take a face plant on the path. His Dad was right there and fortunately he landed on gravel and not pavement. As I ran by Dad was getting him back on his feet and I didn’t hear any crying. Now there’s a tough runner!
We looped back onto the road behind the stadium and in front of the schools. As we passed the schools I could see other runner still heading out on the road and others on the path going behind the school. There were a lot of people out here!
Mile 2 came in at 7:54. As we got back onto paved roads I tried to maintain my pace and leave a little something for a kick at the end. I had been trading places with a little girl most of the race. Many boys would surge ahead and then walk. This 10 year old kept up a consistent pace like a pro and ended up finishing just ahead of me!
We hit Mile 3 just after the Rt. 93 bridge. I hadn’t prepared well for this race but I had managed to save something for the kick. Most of the runners around me were younger and I knew it would be difficult to pass most of them. It’s very easy for a 12 year old to kick it in for a tenth of a mile. I managed a 7:52 pace for Mile 3.
I negotiated the last two turns and crossed the finish line at 24:02. My pace for the last 0.13 miles was 6:52. Not great, but definitely a kick.
I was 48th over all and 2nd in my age group. This race was focused on the kids, so the oldest age group was 18-99. I wasn’t even close to the medals for this one.
The light rain continued and temps were in the low 40s. I grabbed a bottle of water and headed for my car. I grabbed 12 My First 5K medals and headed back to the finish area. Usually a few parents buy a medal for their kids at the end of the race.
As I approached the group giving out the medals I realized they were handing them out to anyone who said this was their first 5k. I was shocked when I looked at their bibs and saw that they did not have a sticker showing that their parents had purchased a medal!
My heart sunk. If they had given away most of the medals we probably wouldn’t have enough for the people who had paid for them. The woman in charge of the kids handing out medals gave me a bunch back, thankfully.
I knew that many people were still on the course and many of the First 5K runners were probably among them. At this point I had no idea if we had enough medals. I felt a little depressed for a moment but hoped I had enough extras with me.
While running the race and crossing the finish line were fun, placing medals around finishers necks was the most fun. I got to hand out about 10 medals and give high fives to the newly minted runners. It’s hard to describe how gratifying it was to see them running towards the finish line with their red bib sticker and then awarding them their first medal!
I hope you had a great Thanksgiving or Holiday run this past weekend.
© andrew nagelin 2015