When I stepped onto the Ocean City Boardwalk on Saturday morning at Somerset Street, wearing a reindeer antler headband and my race bib, a couple people told me there were some reindeer looking for me, and one of them pointed north.
That was why I’d come to the Boardwalk — to find reindeer as part of the TEAM 360 Reindeer Run. Virtual event participants could choose from a 5K or 10K — I chose the 10K — and look for reindeer in certain locations around Delmarva at specific times. Reindeer (which were actually people dressed up in reindeer outfits) could be found at the Boardwalk, Downtown Salisbury, the Salisbury City Park, Pemberton Park and Tuckahoe State Park, and they had prizes to give away. People could also participate in the event from anywhere else.
I had made plans to run with a friend at the Boardwalk for the race. My friend wasn’t able to make it, but I decided to go to the Boardwalk anyway, and I’m glad I did. I figured it would be a nice change of scenery and would also be a good spot for a virtual race — a flat, straight Boardwalk with no worries about stopping for cars. Plus, I think the Boardwalk offered a better chance to win a prize, since so many participating runners live in Salisbury and might have chosen the Salisbury locations.
It was a warm day for December, and I wore a tank top and shorts. The Boardwalk was pretty empty — which made it super easy to keep a social distance from people.
Since it was a virtual race and I was alone, I figured I would try to run at a faster pace than my usual pace, but I knew I would stop if I saw reindeer. I ran the first mile in 10:22, with the wind at my back. I ran about half of the 10K heading each direction — some with the wind blowing toward me and loosening my antlers, and some with it behind me.
I stayed on the lookout for reindeer. With the Boardwalk not being crowded and the reindeer wearing fluffy, brown reindeer outfits, I figured the reindeer would be easy to spot, and they were. Near the end of my second mile, I spotted them.
We were clearly excited to see each other. I pulled up the Buff I had been wearing around my neck and met them. I appreciated that it was stated several times to wear a mask if approaching reindeer — I’m all about keeping everyone safe! They were also wearing masks.
The times listed for finding reindeer in Ocean City were 8:30-9:30 a.m. I left a little later than I planned and didn’t start my run until about 9 a.m., so I was surprised that I ended up being the first to find this pair of reindeer. For being the first to find them, I won a TEAM 360 tumbler, VP Shoes gift card and TEAM 360 BibBoards. I also wanted to get a photo with the reindeer, and they happily posed for a photo with me.
I continued to the north end of the boardwalk, holding my tumbler box, which also had the gift card in it. I had tucked the BibBoards into my pocket. I headed back south on the Boardwalk and decided I would turn on Somerset Street and drop the box off at my car, which was parked on Philadelphia Avenue. I did that around the Mile 4 mark and took a short walk break before heading to the south end of the Boardwalk, taking the loop around Jolly Roger at the Pier and then heading north.
I turned around a little after I got to 5.6 miles and finished my 6.2 miles with a time of 1:09:15.5, a few seconds faster than my time at the Mike Sterling 10K — and I didn’t stop my watch when I met with the reindeer, got the photo or dropped off my prize at my car. I didn’t listen to anything as I ran, but I didn’t miss it.
I did log a little bit longer distance on my watch at the Mike Sterling 10K, where my time was 1:09:25.8, so my per-mile pace was slightly higher on Saturday, but I’m still taking it as a win. I had the goal of beating my Mike Sterling time in mind, while knowing I would stop for a prize.
I’m not usually that into virtual races, but I’m so glad I signed up for this one. It was so much fun! And, the Boardwalk was a great location choice: Some random people offered me words of encouragement and two told me they liked my “ears.” Some kids said “reindeer,” and I made sure to let them know there were reindeer ahead, too.
The race benefited TEAM 360, a great local nonprofit that serves our community by allowing differently-abled people to participate in running and multisport events with the help of volunteer runners who serve as “wingmen.” Learn more about TEAM 360 here.
I received a long-sleeve tech shirt, sunglasses and other swag as part of the race packet.
Searching for the reindeer really made this a unique and fun virtual run experience, and I would love to do something like this again! I’ll be on the lookout for TEAM 360’s Reindeer Run next year.
Mile 1: 10:22
Mile 2: 12:12 (stopped for prize and photo)
Mile 3: 10:57
Mile 4: 11:20
Mile 5: 11:48 (stopped at car)
Mile 6: 10:37
(last part: .21): 1:57 (9:25 pace)
Time: 1:09:15.5 / 11:09 pace