Saturday, Dec. 4, as the winds were blowing fiercely out of the north more than 900 runners huddled inside the Wichita Waterwalk building at 515 S. Main where there was plenty of warmth coming from the hot cocoa, coffee, apple cider and Santa giving out big hugs. Runners and walkers could enjoy a breakfast of Lamar’s donuts, chocolate milk, yogurt, bananas, and oranges before heading into the cold.
Runners and walkers alike were getting into the holiday spirit at the 23rd Annual Arthritis Foundation’s four-mile and one-mile Jingle Bell Run. Many wore costumes depicting the season such as Frosty the Snowman and the Ghost of Christmas Past. Others threw on glitter, an elf hat, jingle bells, a tutu or a Santa hat for this fun run. After the run, the Wagon Masters cooked up some incredible burgers.
The four-mile run kicked off at 9:30 a.m. with 687 participants heading west over the Lewis Street Bridge and then down along the river on the bike-path to the Seneca Bridge and back. Michael Gurley, 19, of Wichita was first to cross the finishing mat with a time of 22:44. Matt Goetz, 23, of Hays was second with a time of 22:54 and Raymundo Hernandez, 19, of Wichita was third with a time of 23:36. Both Gurley and Hernandez run cross country at Friends University where Gurley is a sophomore and Hernandez is a freshman. Gurley commented that this year’s Jingle Bell run with the hardest four miles he has ever run with the wicked winds funneling down the river.
In the women’s race, Jalayne Bacon, 32, of Wichita was first with a time of 26:30, Lacy Hansen, 29, of Wichita was second with a time of 26:59 and Raven Nusser, 23, of Hutchinson was third with a time of 27:25.
The one-mile race started off at 10:40 a.m. allowing many runners to do both the four-mile race and the one-mile race. The one-mile runners headed west over the Lewis Street Bridge and along the river and then back over the river on the Douglas Street bridge and back.
Craig Compton, 17, of Derby was easy to pick out at the starting line of the 1-mile with his shorts, short sleeves and bare feet. Compton ran in bare feet to “feel the pain.” The Jingle-Bell run is the only time that Compton runs barefoot, which makes his first-place finish all the more remarkable. Compton finished first with a time of 5:29 well in front of second and third place. Brandon Lewis, 15 out sprinted Edwardo Cervantes, 23, of Wichita to finish second with a time of 6:13 to Cervantes 6:14.
In the women’s one-mile race, it was April Gochenour, 32, of Rose Hill who came in first with a time of 6:23 after racing the 4-mile an hour earlier and coming in 4th place over-all female. Elena Jimenez, 14, of Wichita was second with a time of 6:49 and Wendee Harris, 16, of Wichita rounded out the top three with a time of 6:58.
This is a race not to miss. What other race serves both breakfast and lunch, gives out prizes for best costume, and raises money for such a great cause? The 23rd Annual Jingle Bell run raised $26,548 for the Arthritis Foundation. This event needs to go on the 2011 calendar, so mark it now for Saturday, Dec. 3, 2011.