Photos: 2013 Ugly Sweater Run
* * *
There were Santas and reindeer, snowmen and yetis, strings of lights and evergreens, even cats dozing in front of fireplaces. These and more seasonal images graced the wardrobes of participants in Omaha's second annual Ugly Sweater Run on Sunday morning.
More than 3,000 people entered the race, which included an ugly sweater contest for adults, children and pets.
Omaha and seven other cities held Ugly Sweater Runs last year. This year, 32 cities in the United States and Canada partnered with Human Movement Management, an entertainment company based in Louisville, Colo., to hold the events.
Calder Cahill, Human Movement's marketing director, said attendance in Omaha was high both years, guaranteeing that the Ugly Sweater Run will return.
Human Movement also organizes the Color Run and Dirty Girl mud run, which have been held in Nebraska, as well as the Zombie Run and the Foam Fest 5K.
Sunday's 5-K run — about 3.1 miles — benefited Toys for Tots, a Marine Corps Reserve program that collects toys for children at Christmas.
The route started at Mike Fahey Street, looped around the campus of Creighton University, ducked under Interstate 480 to reach Capitol Avenue and ended at the Century Link Center on 10th Street.
Attractions included an inflatable candy-cane forest, evergreens, reindeer and a 34-foot Santa along the course, photo stations and free Samuel Adams lager, Angry Orchard Cider and hot chocolate.
Ryan McGlothlin, who lives downtown, said temperatures in the low 20s at the 11 a.m. start time were fine with him.
“I like running in the cold,” McGlothlin said. “And not just to stay in shape, I actually enjoy it.”
McGlothlin said he runs five to 10 half-marathons a year and definitely would return to the Ugly Sweater Run next year.
“It's a good time, not to always be so serious,” he said. “Samuel Adams — that's another reason.”
The family-friendly event attracted participants of all ages, including children in strollers pushed by their parents.
Cahill said Boston Brewing Co., which produces Samuel Adams beers and Angry Orchard Cider, is a good partner for seasonal runs because of its seasonal brews.
Master Gunnery Sgt. Joel Rogers of the Marine Corps Reserve's Engineer Maintenance detail, based at Fort Omaha, said toy collections exceeded expectations.
Rogers said the event also was a good way to reach out to the community. Many people whose families include Marines approached members of the unit to talk with them or take photos, he said.
Among those was Sharon Saniuk of Omaha, who has several relatives in the Marine Corps.
Saniuk said she attended the Ugly Sweater Run to celebrate the birthday of a cousin, Mary Wreith. Wreith's daughter, Lindsay, and sister-in-law Cindy Jodlowski also participated.
The women wanted to celebrate Wreith's birthday by doing something for charity, Saniuk said.
“It was a better way to spend time together,” and a way to support the Marines, she said.
Sisters Briana and Michelle Brabec of Clarkson, Neb., participated both years. This year, they brought friends Roxanne Kastens and Brenda Royal, who also are sisters.
They wore ugly sweaters, of course, but after seeing other runners the women decided their costumes next year needed an additional accessory — fanny packs.