Winter adventures

by Nicholas Heller

Here comes Santa Claus, here comes Santa Claus ...   

Okay, by the time you are reading this, it will be well past “the season,” but nonetheless, I dressed for my first time as Santa this year! I felt pretty festive. And I did it for the Santa Hustle Cedar Point half marathon.   

Yes, the synthetic beard was scratchy and uncomfortable, but as the first “Santa” to come through, it was so much fun to see the kids along the route point and say, “Go Santa!” (I may have also gotten some comments like, “Santa, you need to eat a few more cookies before this weekend!”)   

It was also a fun race because we got to run the first six-plus miles in and around the amusement park – our own little tour of the rides and attractions. Then we ran back to the mainland before turning around (Cedar Point is in the middle of Lake Erie), which made for a cold second half of the race, but also picturesque with water on both sides.   

The finish consisted of an extra lap of the parking lot (which was LARGE, and it was a bit mean to have us run past the finish line), but as a whole, this was a great experience and an enjoyable addition to my visit to Ohio for Christmas!   

After racing just about every weekend from May through most of December, this past month of not racing (Jan. 2 at Siberian Express to Feb. 6 in Charleston) has not only allowed for me to get marathon training miles in, but has also reminded me of how much I like racing! Marathon training gets pretty monotonous (and cold!) this time of year, and I was thankful for the opportunity that the Mid-Winter Classic provided.   

It was a beautiful day and a wonderful course! The hills were a good change of pace, and have I mentioned yet that I missed running fast?! I was thankful for all my friends and fellow runners who showed up and made it such a great event. 

Sarka described the highlights of the race: 
1. Less than an hour from C-U.
2. Pleasantly hilly course – great training for Mountain Goat.
3. One big loop (no repeated sections).
4. Pre-registration price of $15, including fees.
5. Big indoor space with a sufficient number of restrooms.
6. Good post-race food, including chili and broccoli cheese soup.
7. Three race options (5K, 10K, 15K).   

An additional couple of highlights worth mentioning: Brandon Smith set a new course record en route to his victory, and on the women’s side, Michele Marcus took the overall crown, followed closely by Sarka. Finally, for those of you looking for interesting trinkets, this year’s awards would have pleased you! I will surely keep this weekend in mind for next year.  

This story originally appeared in the March/April 2016 issue of In Passing.