Race Recap: The Ugly Sweater Run

If you want to destroy my sweater, whoa whoa whoa…

I’m sure most of the people who participated in The Ugly Sweater Run last Saturday in San Rafael did destroy their sweaters after they were done with this race. Or maybe they kept them because they love tremendously ugly things. My ugly sweater is buried at the bottom of my laundry basket. Mister Jess’s sweater will live in infamy forever (more on that later).

I digress.

The Ugly Sweater Run. It is the ugliest of races, but certainly a lot of fun! The concept is pretty self-explanatory, but I’ll explain anyway: it’s a holiday-themed 5K that celebrates the glorious eye sore that is the ugly sweater. The uglier the better, in fact. From a participant standpoint, it’s a fun challenge trying to find the most offensive-looking sweater imaginable. No easy feat, let me tell you, but my girl Target came through. In fact, I found atrocious outfits for the whole family! Oh, what fun it is to dress in gaudy holiday-wear.

My outfit ended up looking a little something like this:


Unfortunately I was a dime a dozen on race day, at least where my sweater was concerned. Is Target a popular place to shop?

Our kids (furry and human) got in on the action too:

So mad.

So mad.


But the real show stopper here was Mister Jess. Hopefully he won’t file for divorce when he finds out I’m showing this picture to all of you:


Yep. Target had this gem tucked into a corner. Kind of a no-brainer.

So, we got all gussied up, piled into the car, and made our way up to San Rafael.

I will note that when I signed up for this race, I saw “San Francisco” in the title and thought, “DONE.” I didn’t even bother to check that it was actually in the city, which was my mistake. I’ve found that a lot of races tend to say “hey, we’re hosting in San Francisco!” and actually mean “well, it’s kiiiiind of in San Francisco. As in the Bay Area. As in not in San Francisco.” But hey, no problem. We were willing to hop up to Marin for this unique experience.

I digress again.

We got to the Marin County Fairgrounds where the race was being held and were inundated with ugliness. There were ugly sweaters EVERYWHERE. And not just sweaters, but entire awful outfits. It was amazing. People were also decked out in the Ugly Sweater Run knit hats given out during packet pick-up the day before. Those are not ugly at all and will definitely be worn by me if it ever gets cold here this winter.

One of my favorites. Obviously homemade, obviously amazing.

One of my favorites. Obviously homemade, obviously amazing.

If you look closely, there is a runner dressed like a Christmas tree, complete with a star on her head.

If you look closely, there is a runner dressed like a Christmas tree, complete with a star topper on her head.

About the weather: it was effing hot. Like, 70 plus degrees out, which is just a 100% nightmare when you’re dressed in wool. Or polyester. Either way, our running outfits weren’t breathable so Mister Jess and I basically started sweating as soon as we stepped out of the car.

Still we marched on. We made our way to the start line, where they were blowing fake snow out of a fake snow machine (is there a proper name for that? Dunno) and a pretty awesome emcee was pumping up the crowd. This was one of the smaller races I’ve participated in. I’m not the greatest estimator, I’d guess there were maybe 1,000 people there. It was a very enthusiastic crowd, though, so what we lacked in numbers we made up for in “woot woot”s.


Looks like Christmas, feels like Florida.

We stuck Le Pup in the BOB with Bug, which people thought was pretty hysterical. In fact, we were popular as a whole – ugly family-ed out, complete with Korean Santa (Mister Jess gave himself that title).

Ready to roll!

Ready to roll!


There were a few countdowns from 10, but one finally stuck and then we were off. The course was completely flat, which I appreciated given that I hadn’t run in…er, months. Mister Jess hadn’t either, but he still managed to run ahead of me the entire time. And that was with three flat tires on the jogging stroller. Yes, we were lucky enough to get flats on every single tire on the BOB. Not fun. For the dude, at least. Bug and Reily were sitting pretty, and I was basically just trying to keep up/not sweat to death/not think about how parched I was.

There was a photo op station set up not far from the start line, so we stopped there and opped  (yay, a break! I needed it).

Under the blazing sun.

Under the blazing sun.

Then we continued on. At about the halfway point, there was a water station set up, which I gratefully stopped for. In addition to the water, volunteers were also passing out hot chocolate. An adorable idea, but I couldn’t even look at it. I imagine it’ll go over better in a place where it’s not 100 degrees with 200% humidity.

At one point, we were plodding along – or I was plodding; Mister Jess was bopping along – and a runner passed us and said “hey, Korean Santa!” Oddly enough, this gave me a small burst of energy. We were race-famous! Or at least we were to this guy.

The course was not entirely exciting. We ran along a dirt path for much of the race, and toward the end circled around a pond. I was getting tired. It was 150 degrees. Needed a drink. Took one from Bug’s sippy cup. Not my finest moment. Sweated. Took a break under the guise of releasing Reily from the stroller to “stretch his legs.” Followed him around a bit while he peed on every blade of grass. Sweated. Decided I needed to run the last stretch to the finish line. Picked up the pace!

Approximately 50 miles later (or 1.5, whatever), we passed through the enchanted forest – four blow-up trees that were being danced around by some dudes, one of whom was twerking – and then the finish line! So elated. So sweaty.

As if to drive the point home that this was a fun race not a race race, there was no clock at the finish line so I have no idea what our time was. Completely beside the point anyway. I signed up for this race to get ugly, not to PR!



We did it!

We did it!

Overall, this was a great race. Well organized, fun, and FUN. It obviously doesn’t take itself seriously and wants its participants to do the same. Running is just an added benefit to what The Ugly Sweater Run is really about: dreaming up the most atrocious running outfit you’ll ever wear, and having the opportunity to post humorous selfies on various social media platforms.

Are any of our Scoot readers doing this race? Have you already done it? Are you as obsessed with Mister Jess’s Korean Santa outfit as I am? Talk to me in the comments! 



12 thoughts on “Race Recap: The Ugly Sweater Run

  1. I want to run this race so bad but I’m missing the MN one due to travel then the other one in the state I’ll be traveling to is the day after I go back to MN – bad timing! Hopefully next year I’ll be able to

  2. I’m a thrilled to say that I get to run the race with Mer and a bunch of other friends in Philly in a few weeks (where it is bound to be a bit chillier than your locale) ! Sometimes it is awesome to just run to be silly and enjoy the ridiculous moments. Even better when you get to do all of that PLUS help out a good cause (Toys for Tots). I couldn’t be more excited about a race than I am about this one. ha! By the way…the Santa outfit is awesome. Even better was you swigging from the sippy cup. Well done.

  3. You knocked it out of the park with the outfits!! Mister Jess, what a great sport, I think he would be fast friends with Tony who has, among other things donned grey tights to be Prince Charming to my Snow White. Sounds like it was tons of fun, but seriously what is up with the heat there lately? I’ve also noticed various runs “in, not really in the city”. Fun recap, hope to end up at the same run up there soon.

  4. I am so pumped to get to be on a killer team with Megan (see above), Mer, and a few other friends in the Philly area. There’s nothing an ugly sweater can’t fix!

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