Get your ‘Ugly’ on

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Annual benefit 5K scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 2

By Jeff Bryan

Lace your sneakers up tight, pull that tacky Christmas sweater out of the moth balls or the bottom dresser draw, because it’s time for the Ugly Sweater 5K and 1-Mile Walk/Fun Run.

Planning for the fourth annual event has been well underway for months now, according to Race Director VirginiaFit, who along with the Dunnellon High School Booster Club and the Rainbow River Runners will host the Saturday, Dec. 2, event at Blue Run Park.

Proceeds will benefit DHS athletics programs. A year ago, the event drew more than 140 participants and raised $4,000 for the school’s athletic programs.

The event has grown in popularity and size, and VirginiaFit hopes that trend continues again this year. The more people who register, she said, the more money can be raised for the school.

Not everyone has to run the 5K, she explained, a lot of folks walk the course because of the scenic trail. And for those who can’t make the

3.1-mile trek, they have the option of doing a 1-Mile Fun Walk/Fun Run.

“This is an event geared toward everyone, young and old, because a lot of people just rave about the beautiful trail we have here in our own backyard,” she said.

There will be plenty of prizes and medals, too.

In addition to the overall male and female winners as well as male and female master’s division (50 and older) winners, the top three placers from 15 different groups, in 5-year increments, will be recognized.

The school, regardless of county, with the most participants, will win a $200 cash prize for it school’s athletic/physical education department. But in effort to encourage youths, VirginiaFit explained, to compete in the event, the Ugly Sweater Race Committee offered to up the ante, so to speak.

For a group of 10 or more school-aged youths, who register for the Ugly Sweater 5K or 1-Mile Fun Walk, each youth will be charged $10, she explained. But to get the discount, 10 or more youths will have to register for the special rate. Those participants won’t earn for T-shirt or goody bag, but still have the chance to place and win a prize, VirginiaFit said. Those youth participants will need to register using a paper form, which is available at the Dunnellon Chamber & Business Association office or the Riverland News office. Forms can be emailed to interested youths wishing to join the fun, Fit said, and can request one by contacting her through VirginiaFit on Facebook.

Adults, and youths who want a T-Shirt and goody bag, will have to pay the regular entry fees into the race, which is $25 for the 5K between now and Nov. 23; the week of the race, fees will increase to $30, including the day of the race. The cost for the 1-Mile Fun Walk is $20. Please remember, Fit said, the first 150 runners who register by Nov. 11 will be guaranteed a T-Shirt and goody bag. Registration is also available online at register online at runsignup.com/Race/FL/Dunnellon/UglySweater


Honors for the top runners isn’t the lone competition, VirginiaFit said, noting the Ugly Sweater Challenge is always a favorite of participants.

“Heat up your glue guns, go crazy with the glitter and don’t forget the bells,” she exclaimed. The top three winners, as chosen by the crowd, receive unforgettable “embarrassment,” she quipped, and one of the traditional “Grinch” tree ornaments.

“The ‘Challenge’ is one of many ways that makes the event a great time,” she said. “People really do go above and beyond to win the award; it’s become very popular over the past couple of years. The crowd loves it and so do the participants.”