About 3,000 runners lined up at Montrose Harbor dressed Santa Hats, moustaches, and the ugliest sweaters they could find to participate in the Ugly Sweater Fun Run 5k on Saturday.
Coordinated by Human Movement , this event sponsored Toys for Tots, and participants were asked to bring a Christmas present to donate. Leah Smith, event coordinator, said all toys would be distributed to local families in need.
“Ultimately we want people to enjoy spending time with their friends and family while having a great kickstart to the holiday season in really ugly sweaters,” Smith said.
This is the first year for the Ugly Sweater run and was an idea that came from the Human Movement staff Christmas Party last year where the staff dressed in Ugly Sweaters to celebrate, Smith said. The fun run is put on in cities nationwide as well as one in Moscow, Russia.
“Most staff members wanted to go home for the holidays, so we chose their hometowns for the first year of the series,” Smith said. ” In 2013, we’re going to have to get more strategic.“
Smith said because of the fun nature of the race, she would encourage beginners to give this run a try.
“I would encourage the non-traditional runner to participate in the Ugly Sweater Run,” Smith said. “If running makes you cringe, this is the 5k for you! The purpose of this run is to have fun in ugly sweaters, and however long it takes you to get through the course is fine with us!”
The crown varied from young adults to families who wanted to not only get in the Christmas spirit but get a workout for the day. Jessica Zackavec, Tinley Park resident, joined the 5k with Team in Train, a group running to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma society.
“I am here for the comradery of people I run with,” Zackavec said. “We run together and we thought it would be fun to do this.”
Running the 3.1 mile route is only half of the fun at this event; participating in the ugly sweater festivities was essential for getting into the spirit. Smith said seeing the variety of sweaters is her favorite part of the run.
“I love that people take time to make their sweater extra ugly for the race or that at some point someone bought that sweater to make a fashion statement,” Smith said. “The best ugly sweater I saw was dancing Christmas cats. I really wonder sometimes about the designers of these sweaters.”
Sweater styles varied knit, to screen printed elves and reindeer, to brightly colored sweaters appearing to be from the 80s. Eric Vanhorn, Andersonville resident, decided to go the extra mile by not only including an ugly sweater in his outfit, but wearing a green elf suit along with it.
“I am not usually a runner,” Vanhorn said. “But these pants are going to blind everyone, so I think I have a good shot at winning.”