On December 12th 2015, I had the pleasure of running my second Running of the Balls race here in Greensboro, NC. I've gotta tell you- it's my favorite 5k(ish) in the world. The best way I could describe it last year was "Last nights Running of the Balls race definitely put me in the holiday spirit! There were carolers, lights, a middle school band playing "Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel." Did I mention there were TONS of lights? It was pretty spectacular!" Well, there was all that and then some this year.
For the first time ever, I got to experience a race with my Mom. Yes, Mama Donnelly participated in the Running of the Balls with the walkers! The company she works for, Premier Federal Credit Union, was the official sponsor of the race. Because of this we both received free registration. I've paid for this race in the past and I would pay to participate again so as always, you're getting my genuine opinion.
The Running of the Balls race takes place in the neighborhood of Sunset Hills off W. Market Street in Greensboro, North Carolina. It's called the Greatest 5k(ish) on Earth, measuring in at approximately 3.3 miles. Put on by Jones Racing Company, this race is not officially timed.
For locals in the area, this neighborhood is known for the balls of lights hanging in the trees and dangling across the street. Vehicles drive by nightly to look at the spectacle every year. Runners and walkers alike have the pleasure of putting on their holiday gear and parading through the streets as carolers sing and residents pull up a chair to cheer them on. With the unusually warm temperatures (the race started in the mid 60's) there were even more spectators than usual this year. The course wraps around the neighborhood three times, but each lap runners can catch a different soundtrack so the experience feels fresh and new.
I picked up our packets on Thursday night at Omega on Battleground. I only had to wait in line for a few minutes before I took off with our shirts and bibs. Pre-race packet pickup was much more convenient than having to stand in line prior to the race. The lines looked preeeeetty long that night. When we got to the race, we were able to walk up to a VIP tent provided by Premier Federal Credit Union. There was a fire pit near all the VIP tents although with the warm temperatures, we really didn't need it before the race. Runners lined up for the 6:00 start time. The horn signalled for us to take off around 6:08. Although this is a VERY popular race in the area (it typically sells out a month ahead of time) they try to limit the number of participants to 3,500. Even with the restricted number of runners, the course felt a little crowded at first. I don't think anyone minded though. We were all in the holiday spirit ringing our bells as we strut up the first hill.
About half a mile in, we encountered a stage with musicians singing an original song, "Running of the Balls." Prior to that was a middle school band, once again playing my favorite song from last year, "Dreidel, dreidel, dreidel." Once we wrapped around back to the starting line there was the main stage with a band singing Christmas carols and covers of Top 40 hits all night. After finishing the race, my Mom and her co-workers from Premier Federal Credit Union took off with the runners. The course for the runners was one lap and approximately a mile.
There were tables lined up with volunteers passing out hot chocolate and cookies for race participants. My favorite part was the frozen yogurt provided by D'lishi in several holiday flavors. With the temperature still in the 60's, I wasn't really in the mood for hot chocolate. I think most runners were feeling the same way since most we waiting in line for water.
After the race, my Mom and I stopped to get a Christmas tree and we went home and baked cookies. I'm not even kidding. The race put us in the holiday spirit. Plus, it fell during Hannukah this year. Last year's Running of the Balls took place a few days before the first night of Hannukah.
If you live near the area, I highly recommend participating in this race. Everyone is here for the fun and it's not competitive at all. With the shirts, refreshments and excitement, it's definitely a good value at around $35 to register. I'm looking forward to next year's race! Hope to see some of you there!!