Let’s get UGLY, Philly!

Last month Jess and her fam took to the San Francisco streets (or well, close by) for the Ugly Sweater Run. This past weekend I got to have my very own experience! Cold temps, inflatables, and the most awesome ugliest sweaters imaginable: it’s the Philadelphia Ugly Sweater Run.


Jay and I arrived at 6:30 for an early morning packet pickup. There was no line and we got a fantastic parking spot. Score! Usually I’m a fan of doing packet pickup before the day of the race but this was super laid-back and easy. While waiting in our warm car we got the chance to check out a lot of ugly sweaters of all different varieties.



About a half hour before the start we wander toward the start area. Techno Christmas carols were pumping and there were photo opportunities for all. This run partners with Toys for Tots and many runners brought unwrapped toys to place by the inflatable Christmas tree.

usr2Soon we found all the members of our team, The Ho Ho Hos (I giggled good and hard when we came up with that name) and got the obligatory “we’re in it to win it” picture.

Brandi, Jen, Megan, me, Cyanne, and Alissa

Brandi, Jen, Megan, me, Cyanne, and Alissa

Seriously business runners, right here! I’ve know Brandi, Jen, and Megan for awhile now – we met in Stroller Strides and “graduated” to running races together through the past couple of years. And I finally got to meet Cyanne and her friend, Alissa! Team Sparkle in the hizzy!

We chatted for a couple of minutes about our race strategies (um, none) before heading to the start line, which was a wave start. It was chilly so we all wanted to get moving to get the blood flowing.



Soon enough we were off!


The course was pretty dense at the start and it lasted for about the first half mile or so. I had told Jay that I’d stick with him throughout the race. He’s got (stupid) plantar fasciitis and I’ve been dealing with some (stupid) foot pain of my own so we were taking it nice and easy. Cyanne stuck with us too, which was rad because we got to chat throughout the entire run and it just confirmed what I already knew through our Twitter/blogger friendship – she’s awesome!

Of course, we took all the pictures.


The point of this picture was to get the snow. I failed. Totally. But Cyanne is adorable regardless.

Thanks to Cyanne for this pic!

Thanks to Cyanne for this pic! (She didn’t fail!)

About a mile and a half into the run, we came across the water and hot chocolate station! We chose water but it seemed like there were a fair share of people getting hot chocolate to warm up.


And we came across a little Christmas tree going for a ride in a wagon. Because hey, why the heck not?


Two miles in, we entered the “enchanted forest”. To say we were enchanted would be putting it mildly!


Three enchanted ugly sweater runners are we!

Sadly, we had to leave the forest and continue on our way to the finish line. The Ugly Sweater Run website says that the run is “approximately” 3.1 miles. That is accurate. We crossed through Smith Memorial Arch and were surprised to see the finish line just ahead!


Jay's "what the what, we're at the finish already?" face.

Jay’s “what the what, we’re at the finish already?” face.

After the finish, there was the post run party, which included Sam Adam’s beer and cider and hot chocolate. There was a crazy long line for the beer area but we figured out where the secret second line was! Woo to the hoo!

usr13We found the rest of the Ho Ho Hos and chatted about our romp through the park. After sharing a post race drink, toasting to our successes as rocking the ugly attire, and warming our hands by the fake fireplace, we were ready to really warm ourselves in the heat of our cars.

Last year I had committed to running 12 races in 2012. I didn’t make the same goal for 2013 but when I got home from the Ugly Sweater Run, I realized that I’ve completed 13 races in 2013. What’s next? Continue my run streak for the rest of December and think of my goals for 2014. I’d like to be more specific this year. What are some of your goals for the upcoming year? Have you met Twitter/blogger friends in person?

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!