The premise was simple: we would start at the Higbee department store (now a casino) where Ralphie met Santa, and run for about 3.2 miles to his house. You then had the option of staying at the house and taking a shuttle bus back, or looping back to the department store. Either way, you get the same medal: "a major award."
The starting area had lots of entertainment, unfortunately it was so bitterly cold most people huddled inside the mall and casino.
This is an example of an inaugural race doing everything right. They did massive publicity. I saw it referenced on Disney running boards, Sharon had a group of friends from Team McGraw running this event, Don had a co-worker from Philly post he was heading to Chicago for the race. In addition to the 5k and 10k options, they also had a virtual option. I read people received their awards and shirts before the actual race took place.
Packet pick up had many slots -- including up to an hour before the start (a real bonus for me since that meant I could hang out in Columbus in the night before with Heidi),
The race started exactly on time. They also had pacers lined up with signs so you knew where you should be. In theory, the walkers were supposed to be in the very back, but some walkers did not get that memo.
The bibs were absolutely adorable. They had a timing chip in them, which recorded each person's start and end time no matter when they crossed the start line.
A couple of weeks before the event they capped registration to 7,000 runners, plus as many virtual runners as wanted to participate. Yes, 7,000 people willingly went to Cleveland on a December day during the busy holiday crunch season to run a race, including Sandy, Gabrielle, Sharon and I. As you can gather from our group photo, many wore costumes. The most popular were bunny suits, and leg laps. I also saw Santa, and several people with their tongues "stuck" to a pole. As a fan of Disney races, I love a race with costumes. This one had a lot of creative costumes. Not sure how many made it to the finish line intact, though.
Periodically, at each mile marker and other spots, there was a sign with trivia from the movie.
The race was very walker and family friendly. The only complaint I heard (besides my complaint that it dropped 35 degrees between Thursday and Saturday, from 56 to 21 degrees, and was bitterly cold), was that the shuttle buses ran late as more runners wanted to take the shuttle back. Some gave up the wait and walked back. By this point it was getting colder out.
Looking for Gabrielle near the 11:00 pacer (she is much faster, but we are not) at the start. Very congested start, but wide roads helped us to thin out quickly. The roads were nicely paved, the shoulders were not, though. Don rode his bike in the shoulder taking pictures and having fun.
A glint of sunlight at the start of the race.
Of course the highlight was passing Ralphie's house, which we did visit later. Everyone was given a free ticket just for participating in the race. We also got a nice long sleeved shirt and an awesome "major award" medal.
My only regret is leaving my super-duper warm running pants at home.