Solomons Island was alive with activity throughout the weekend of Dec. 8 through 10. While the largest crowds converged to gaze upon bright Christmas decorations adorning stores and boats, sip hot cider and sing carols, a sizeable number came to Calvert Marine Museum during the awaking hours of Saturday, Dec. 9.
The legions of runners and walkers, many with small children in tow, came to participate in the sixth annual Jingle Bell Run for Arthritis. Some came from as far away as Florida and Vermont.
â€śItâ€™s now the biggest road race in Southern Maryland,â€ť said Kelly Imhof, a member of the Solomons-based Chesapeake Bay Running Club. Imhof and her husband, Greg, have organized the event since 2001.
Imhof announced that about 450 runners and walkers signed up for the race, which circumvents the entire island and is just over three miles longâ€”or five kilometers (5K).
The participants run or walk individually or as teams. To buoy their spirits in the bitter cold, many of the athletes don artificial antlers and Santa hats. Everyone who signed up to participate received jingle bells to pin on their shirts.
The adolescent and adult runners and walkers arenâ€™t the only ones who participate. Before the gun sounded on the main event, small children from ages 1 to 10 got to participate in several heats of the â€śRudolph Romp.â€ť Many of the smaller children were escorted hand-in-hand to the finish line by parents.
The bells werenâ€™t the only things jingling at the race. According to Imhof, a last-minute rush of recruits pushed the final dollar amount of money raised to $11,500â€”easily surpassing her original goal of $10,000. Imhof presented a large check to Jan Thompson of the Maryland Arthritis Foundation, who thanked those attending the post-race awards ceremony with aiding what is often a neglected cause.
â€śItâ€™s not just aches and pains,â€ť said Thompson. Marylandâ€™s Arthritis Foundation provides more than $1 million a year for both local and national research.
According to figures from the Maryland Arthritis Foundation, one in every five adults in the United States has some form of arthritis. Itâ€™s one of the most prevalent chronic health problems and the nationâ€™s leading cause of disability among individuals over the age of 15.
â€śThere are five jingle bell runs in Maryland,â€ť said Thompson. â€śHands down this [Solomons] is the best. Itâ€™s supposed to be a community event.â€ť