Donner and Blitzen 21K

The Christmas holidays are that time of the year when so much is going on – from parties, shopping, family gatherings, lunches and dinners. Everyone’s plate is full. But despite all these events, I made sure not to miss out on racing throughout December.

And besides, who wouldn’t be excited to do a Santa Run around Christmas? On December 10, 2016 I ran the Donner and Blitzen 21K, which was part of 8th Annual Santa Runs Tacoma. It is hosted by the Tacoma City Marathon Association, whose other events include the St. Paddy’s Day Tacoma Run, which I ran in 2015.

This Santa Runs Tacoma race was fun. The mood was festive and runners were happy. There were elves, gingerbread men, Santa, and Mrs. Claus all running aside us. I had a picture before the race with Santa, who was a very friendly and jolly volunteer.

There were a good number of runners and enough pacers. I started out with the 2:20 pace group, led by an excellent pacer. A little fast in the beginning, but she was nice and friendly. Everyone who has run in Tacoma knows that Tacoma is a little hilly. But this half was actually easier for me than the St. Paddy’s Day Tacoma Run. That route was way hillier than this one.

This course was an out and back and we basically ran alongside the train tracks. It was pretty loud for a good part of the race and I noticed that the freight trains that passed by were so long! Towards the half-way mark, this cute Santa runner was shouting “I’ve got to hurry, Santa has to get to North Pole. Kids are waiting for me!”, and he dashed off.

The police officers for this race were so friendly. Oh, I have to make a special mention of this one volunteer who stood at about the 12 km mark. He was the most enthusiastic, cheerful, happy volunteer I have ever encountered. He high-fived every runner, cheered so loud and sincerely wished every runner well. What would runners do without these people?

I bumped into some runners who had run the same race as me the week prior or the week prior to that. It appears that after a while, we end up with the same running schedule. It’s nice to know I’m not the only running fanatic out there 🙂

I credit my husband for getting me to Tacoma safe and sound for the race. It was snowing heavily in Vancouver the night before the race and when we woke up in the morning all of the highways were pretty icy. We left at 4:00am in the pitch dark to begin our drive down. From Vancouver to Tacoma it was a good 2.5 to 3 hours even with no traffic due to the treacherous road conditions.

I walked away from this race with an age group ribbon. That made the trip all worth it. I spoke with the race director afterwards, and she was super friendly. I feel blessed that I have met so many nice people at almost every race I’ve run – from the volunteers, the cheerleaders, the organizers and the runners. I realize now that running is more than just running; the people that I have met along the way have made each and every one of my running experiences precious and remarkable. I hope my running journey in 2017 will be as memorable as it has been in 2016!

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