"There are 3,000 runners on the street this evening!" bellowed Tallahassee's Mayor Marks from the podium before the run. Then after a pause, "I've been told that there are 7,000 runners entered! We've grown by 4,000 in the last two minutes!"
You don't have to be Santa to be a jolly old elf.
As big as it is, Tallahassee's Jingle Bell Run isn't really organized as a race. The runners aren't timed, but a clock is placed next to the finish line so you can glance over and see what you logged for three kilometers (although most years the course hasn't even been a rough approximation of that distance). Results are neither compiled or published, but there is an attempt to determine the top male and top female finisher, who are supposedly accorded a place with honor next to Santa on a float in the following Winter Festival parade. So for a few runners up front, it can be a race through the streets of downtown Tallahassee.
Local high school cross-country start took the top spots in 2009 and 2010. 2011 was no exception, as Wakulla High senior Stanley Linton sped across the finish line first in 9:57. Less than nine hours earlier, Linton had been racing in the annual FACA Senior All-Star Cross-Country Meet, where he had placed twelfth. Stefanie Kurgatt, a junior on the cross-country squad at Maclay School, was the first female finisher, running 12:18.
Tallahassee's Jingle Bell Run may be wanting as a road race. In spite of the numbers, it's no Boston or Peachtree. But it does get an extraordinary number of Tallahassee citizens out running in the streets, and it raises money for the Friends Of Our Parks, which supports the facilities of the Tallahassee Parks and Recreation Department. Those parks are home to some of the finest running trails anywhere, excellent places to train and even the site of a few races (e.g., the Miller Landing Madness and the Tails & Trails). That's something that any runner can support.
- More photos of the 2011 Tallahassee Jingle Bell Run
- 2010 story, "Slupecki and Hagen lead a cast of thousands at the Jingle Bell 3K"
- 2009 story, "Mizereck masters the mob at Jingle Bell Run"
- Find upcoming races that include timing and results on the Trouble Afoot! calendar