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Jingle Bell Run draws a crowd

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Most individuals; most teams; most fun

By Mike Forster

We all know about the Eight Maids a' Milking and the Twelve Drummers Drumming.  They're a big part of the "Twelve Days of Christmas", after all.

But, what about the 369 Runners Running?

Though they aren't a part of that famous carol, they certainly played a part in the Bedford Christmas scene.

That's how many hoofers crossed the line at this year's Peaks of Otter Christmas Classic Run.

Also known as the Jingle Bell Run, the Classic has been a part of the Bedford Yuletide kickoff for more than a generation.

This year, the runners were greeted with a beautiful, sunny day, just right for a brisk trip around Bedford's famous Loop.

No one made a brisker journey of it than did Ricky Flynn.  The 24-year old made mincemeat of the course, dashing 'round the 5 kilometers in a time of 15 minutes and 55 seconds.

Flynn was as lonely at the finish line as the Grinch at the company Christmas party.  In fact, Flynn had enough time after finishing the race to knock out a letter to Santa, before greeting the rest of the field.

OK, we exaggerate.  Still, it was nearly 45 seconds before runner-up Michael Owen chugged in at a very respectable 16:39.

 

For his efforts, Flynn won a spot o' cash and a Christmas turkey.  Also bringing home a bird was Becky Keller, who turned in the best women's time (19:32, 14th best overall).

Race director Josh Raines, of the Bedford Area YMCA, could barely contain his glee, given the smoothness with which the race took place.

The weather was perfect:  sunny, no wind and with seasonally mild temperatures.

Those 369 hoofers represented the largest group ever to run the race.  The 20 running teams also set a mark for participation.

"A lot of people seem to put this race on their calendar," noted Raines.  "It's good to hear that people like it so much."

It's people of all ages that seem to like the race.  George Smith, 87 years young, showed that he's still got what it takes.  Smith ran the 3.1 miles in 45:12, finishing ahead of more than 40 other participants.

Meanwhile, Girl Scout Troop 103 came out in force.  With members ranging in age from four to ten, the ladies put forth a fine effort.

"It's kind of inspiring to see all of those kids that are running," said Raines.

Certainly, he also was inspired by the participation in the one mile and quarter mile runs for the younger sprouts.

The longer race drew 30 participants while the dash had about 15 of the wee ones entered.

You're likely to see many of those younger runners at future Jingle Bell Runs, as they develop into competitive runners.

The Jingle Bell Run is truly a community event.  American National Bank, Piedmont Health Plan and Stellar One all provided substantial support.  The Bedford City Police Department was out in force, helping ensure the safety of the runners, with a minimum of disruption to city traffic.

Most importantly, fans came out to cheer on friends, family and strangers as they took off and arrived at Bedford Middle School.