The Grinch, a sleigh, and a barefoot 5K

Grinch pushing sleigh in 5K raceAh the holidays. Christmas trees, lighted houses, and the annual Reindeer Romp 5K. Each year hundreds of people gather in Jamestown, NC to freeze their aces off while running 3.1 miles. It’s a welcome event. Not only for the camaraderie, but for the costumes as well.

Two years ago I braved sub-freezing temperatures, and ran the race dressed as a present. This year, I wanted to run in the cold as a cold-hearted character—the Grinch. In order to do so I was gonna need a sled, an antler, and a costume.

Obviously, the Grinch costume was the most important component, and that’s where I started. I looked online and found one for $80. Too expensive. I also found a guy who made his own latex mask. Too hard. Then I remembered a local costume shop. I stopped by and as luck would have it, the guy had one. I reserved the costume and moved to part two: the sled.

ornamental sleigh

In my head I knew what I wanted to create. So instead of drawing up plans I threw my son in his baby jogger, and the two of us strolled through the aisles of Hobby Lobby looking for supplies. Not long after entering the store I came across an ornamental sleigh and used it as a model.

Fifteen minutes later I had everything I needed: three sheets of 24×30 inch sheets of 1/4″ red foam board, one 3/8″ x 36″ wooden dowel, two 1/2″ x 36″ wooden dowels, 1 package of 3/8″ acorn dowel caps, 1 package of 1/2″ dowel caps, a roll of red duct tape, and a roll of gold duct tape.

With parts in hand, all I had to do was create the sleigh. For this I left my son with his mom (thanks honey!), and hit up my crafty friend, Lynn. First the sides, then the front, and finally the stabilizers.  To make things pretty we (and by “we” I mean Lynn) ran the gold duct tape along the edges of the foamboard. Two hours later, only finishing touches remained. Lynn offered to take care of ’em, and bring the sleigh to the race the following week. Time for part three: the antler.

baby with antler headband

my son wears antlers, once

In the book, the Grinch grabs a stick and fastens it to his dog as an antler. In real life, fastening a stick to a child’s head and keeping it there is nearly impossible. With this factoid understood I searched Target and Wal-Mart for alternative antlers before purchasing a headband that my son refused to wear (for longer than a photo opp). Whatever, I’d see how he felt on race day. For now, I had a wooden antler and a headband alternative. My project was complete.

On race day, I met up with Lynn and secured the sleigh to the BOB with zip ties. Thirty minutes later I was in my costume and my son was buckled in the sleigh sans antler. With my wife, sister, brother-in-law, and niece in the lead we made our way to the start line. A quick countdown and we were off.

It didn’t take long before I hit my first bump, literally. About a tenth of a mile in I went off road to make my way around a pack of kids and the foam board at the rear of the sleigh (the only part not zip-tied down) dropped down onto the baby jogger’s axle. Instead of stopping I reached down and made a quick adjustment (which I had to repeat every 1/4 mile).

By mile one the Grinch mask was making it very difficult to breathe. So difficult that I took it off for the time being. Finally able to breathe, I finished the downhill, turned the corner and proceeded up a long gradual incline. My son pointed out a dog, “woofed twice,” and we continued on a straightaway. Down a short hill, up another, across an intersection, up another hill, quick turn to the left, and finally back to the right. With a tenth of a mile to go I slowed down enough to put my mask and Santa hat back on <– for the photos.

My son and I crossed the finish line at 23:36 (7:33 pace). At the award ceremony afterwards I won the $50 prize for Best Costume, finished 5th in my age group, and 30th overall. Not bad for a Grinch.

bunch of people and a Grincha guy, girl, baby, and Grinchlady and Grinch with sleighGrinch crosses the finish line
Click a photo to enlarge