RTE: The legend of the Christmas 5K

In a 5K featuring this cast of characters, who wins? 

Legend has it that many years ago all of the Christmas characters gathered together on Dec. 24 to run a 5K. Santa Claus came up with the idea after reading an article in Runner’s World about ultra-marathons. He believed that he was the greatest ultra-marathoner on the planet. Who else could deliver presents to over a billion kids in a single night? He was tired of being overlooked as an elite athlete just because he was larger than normal so he talked all of his Christmas friends into running a 5k.

Imagine this scene: There on the starting line was The Grinch, complaining that he was disadvantaged because his heart was two sizes too small. Frosty the Snow Man was there along with Scrooge and the Three Wise Men. A collection of Whos made the trip down from Whoville to compete, as did Rudolph, and of course, Santa himself wearing a bright red speed suit. The race officials also hired the Easter Bunny to serve as a rabbit for the first mile to ensure an honest pace. The runners were all nervous knowing bragging rights were on the line.

The gun went off and the Easter Bunny confidently hopped to the lead and set the pace. If he missed his splits, even by a hare, he would not get paid. Unfortunately, Rudolph could not handle running in second place so he flew right past the rabbit. Sensing that he had already laid an egg, the Easter Bunny dropped out. Rudolph was followed closely by Santa and the Three Wise Men. The Grinch and Scrooge were throwing elbows at each other and jostling for position to draft behind Santa’s considerable girth. Frosty was at the back of the pack not wanting to burn out early. Meanwhile the Whos were still at the starting line. They formed a circle and began to sing songs.

Rudolph continued to light things up from the front until he inexplicably hung a left turn and veered way off course. The rest of the pack may well have followed him but the Three Wise Men had studied the course map carefully before the race. They knew they needed to continue going straight ahead towards the brightest star in the sky. With Rudolph now out of contention, Santa seized the opportunity and began to gap the field. He looked back and taunted the other runners: “Santa Claus is taking you to town!” he yelled. Then he was distracted by a tray of milk and cookies set out at an aid station. Santa figured there was plenty of time to have a snack.

It looked like the race would come down to the The Wise Men, Scrooge, The Grinch and Frosty, who was still playing it cool and running as if he had ice-water in his veins. The Whos were still singing songs at the starting line while Santa and Rudolph were nowhere to be seen.

Scrooge wanted to take the lead but was haunted by the ghost of 5K’s past and knew what would happen if he moved too early. Grinch was getting tired and knew he would need to cheat if he wanted to steal this Christmas 5K. He took out a bottle of performance enhancing drugs and gobbled them down. Almost immediately his heart grew three sizes! He felt a surge of energy and, with a mischievous grin, sprinted into the lead. Scrooge was so disheartened by The Grinch’s sudden burst he threw up his hands and shouted “Bah Humbug!” and dropped out.

It was all going well for The Grinch when suddenly his oversized heart seized up in an attack. He staggered and fell into a nativity scene on the sidewalk next to the course. He was completely motionless and in the fetal position when the Three Wise Men found him. They brought him the gifts of Frankincense, CPR, and a lecture about how “winners never cheat and cheaters never win.”

The Whos had begun jogging but were still singing carols and holding hands. They found Rudolph and picked up Santa and the Easter Bunny. But there was no one between Frosty and the finish line. With certain victory in hand, he tipped his magic hat to the crowd and instantly froze motionless only inches from the finish line.

The Whos continued their run, gathering up the contestants as they went. They picked up Scrooge, The Grinch, and the Three Wise Men before helping Frosty put his magic hat back on and crossing the finish line together. Since it was everyone’s first 5K, they all got personal best times and all had a reason to celebrate. More importantly, the Christmas characters learned a valuable lesson about running that day: While we are all different sizes, shapes, and abilities, and while we are all chasing different dreams and goals, it is the people we meet along the way that make our journeys special.

Happy Holidays everyone and happy running!

Note: Run The Edge is a weekly contribution from Tim Catalano and Adam Goucher, authors of "Running The Edge." For more information, check out their website www.runtheedge.com or follow them on Facebook at facebook.com/runtheedge.