Runners keep it festive at holiday race

Runners keep it festive at holiday race #891

CARMEL VALLEY Christmas may have come and gone, but that didn’t stop thousands of runners from getting into the holiday spirit Sunday morning during the second annual San Diego Holiday Half Marathon.

About 2,800 runners took to the 13.1 mile course, which started in Rancho Peñasquitos and ended at the picturesque Torrey Pines State Beach. The mostly downhill race features a 714-foot drop in elevation and gives runners a good shot at setting a personal record, according to the event’s website.

“Not only is it a really healthy way to finish the year off, it’s also a lot of fun to run a net drop,” said race director Lee Ann Yarbor, an avid runner herself.

Many participants Sunday donned Christmas-themed get-ups — Santa hats, holiday sweaters and plenty of red and green garments — giving the race a festive feel.

The costumed runners included Lauren and Ludovic Vincent, although Lauren’s candy-cane inspired dress, boots and headband outdid her husband’s Santa Hat.

“It’s the holiday half, we might as well get in the spirit,” she said. “We’ve done a few marathons and half marathons and I always admire people who get dressed up, so I decided to do it myself.”

The La Jolla couple said the race was a great way to work off some of the pounds, and a little guilt, that often come with holiday meals.

“And we’re making room for the New Year,” Ludovic Vincent said.

Rebecca Walker and her two friends were also dressed to impress in sequined red skirts, knee-high Christmas socks and green running tops. Walker said the rest of her year is jampacked with races — a great way to say goodbye to the old year, and ring in the new, she added.

Holiday-themed get-ups weren’t the only things that gave the race a festive feel. The season of giving was in the air, too. Participants were encouraged to bring food and clothing to donate to the Salvation Army. Race proceeds were given to the Joan Kroc Salvation Army Children’s Education Foundation, Yarbor said.

“It seems like everyone is willing to participate in a food drive,” she said. “It’s about feeding our community.”

The race drew a variety of skill levels, including professional runners. Jordan Chipangama of Flagstaff, Ariz., who races with Northern Arizona Elite, finished first with a time of 65:03.

For more details, visit www.utsandiego.com

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