Reindeer Run 5K (21:22)

On Saturday, I ran my first holiday race of the Christmas season, the Reindeer Run 5K in Downtown Charleston. It was my first time running this 5K, the largest 5K I’ve ever run, and I had a big PR, so I’m pretty excited to write about it.


About the Reindeer Run 5K

In its 25th year, the Reindeer Run 5K is one of the longest-running and most competitive 5Ks in the Charleston area. The race gives cash prizes and normally draws a speedy crowd. Many years, it draws sub-elites from surrounding states or the upstate, vying for the $500 first place prize. I’m sure the flat and fast course, as well as the beauty and warm temperatures of the Lowcountry, also draw them to the race.

Most of us are far from elite, and the Reindeer Run also draws age groupers like myself, first-time 5Kers (it would be a good “graduation” race for Couch to 5K), walkers, families, those with pets, and people who like to run in costumes. No matter who you are and what running goals bring you joy, you can’t beat a holiday race.


The race is held in Downtown Charleston and includes some beautiful views such as The Battery, Charleston Harbor, and the iconic Rainbow Row. Like most of Charleston, it’s completely flat, but since it is downtown, you need to arrive early and park.

The Reindeer Run 5K is typically held in the first weekend of December, but the City of Charleston made the race change the date to December 12 due to cruise ships. This date conflicted with the Kiawah Island Marathon and Half Marathon, so local runners had to choose. I’m glad the Reindeer Run still went on, and since I like holiday races and short distance, I signed up a few weeks before and mentally prepared to ride the 5K Pain Train.

My Race Experience

On Friday, I took a vacation day from work to do some Christmas shopping, eat lunch with Clay, and pick up mine and Melissa’s race packets. Melissa’s kids were sick last week, so I wanted to grab her packet just in case they were sick Saturday morning and she had to miss the race (it’s a pricey race and I wanted her to at least get the shirt if she didn’t get to run).

I saw the Charleston Running Club president, Ray, at packet pick up. He was running as a Pacer pushing a special needs child, and he wished me good luck and advised me to line up near the front due to crowds. I also got my bib number- 2158, and I hoped to at least beat my bib number!

The packet pick up went smoothly, although the packets didn’t have reindeer antlers like I thought they would. The race had a prize for the first person wearing the antlers to cross the finish, and someone won it, so some runners got antlers- maybe they picked up their packets the day of?


I left the house super early to get to the race early and secure a close parking spot in a garage. I had to leave right after the race to go to a family barbeque two hours away, so I didn’t want to be stuck downtown. I arrived at the garage and found an attendant who announced that parking was $5 cash. Our garages normally take credit cards, and I never carry cash. I went to Harris Teeter and bought a $1 granola bar to get cash for the garage.

My friend Pat owns Marion’s in the French Quarter, an event and party venue a few feet from the finish line, and he opened it up to hang out before the race. Hanging out in Marion’s, I felt like an elite! We got to use real bathrooms instead of porta potties, and we stashed our bags, sweats, phones, and keys behind the bar. It was very warm out, but the warm building would be an added benefit on a cold day. Emily and Jen got there pretty soon after I did.


Melissa met me at Marion’s for her packet. We did a 2 mile warmup and took a picture with our fellow Summerville runner Kendall. Kendall ran as Snoopy and won the costume contest.


I also saw my neighbor and friend, Liz, who is training for the Charleston Half Marathon and used this 5K as a training run.


The race started promptly at 9 AM, and I made sure to line up just after the sub-20 minute 5Kers. I knew I wouldn’t be close to 20, but I wanted to be close to the front but out of the way of the speedsters. It was a good decision, as I never really encountered many crowds. We took off running down East Bay Street and turned onto Broad Street, then Meeting. Since the roads were closed, we had some crowd support and the radio station vans were out playing Christmas music on the course.

On South Battery, I hit the first mile in 6:34, only 1 second slower than my first mile of the Florence Turkey Trot. I knew I went out too fast, but at least I didn’t PR the first mile of a 5K! By then, it was a little late for strategic pacing, so I just tried to hold on. Run fast, take chances. We turned onto Murray Blvd, where the race had a water stop at around mile 1.5. It was on a curb and a little crowded (there was another water stop at around the 2.5 mile mark).

My second mile was a 6:42, so I didn’t slow down quite as much. The sun was out on Murray Blvd, which is right on the water, but fortunately we didn’t have any wind. A few runners I knew passed me at this point, along with a girl I’d been running close to who was in high school and probably thought I was in her age group. We ran by Rainbow Row and a huge Charleston Strong banner in memory of the Emanuel AME Church victims. My legs didn’t feel Charleston Strong, and I rode the Pain Train to the finish. I never look at my watch for Mile 3, since it’s so close to the finish, but my Garmin clocked that at 7:08.

Running down East Bay Street, I saw the finish line ahead and struggled to have any “kick” but noticed the low 21 time from far away. I knew I would PR, but didn’t know how much.


I finished with a 21:22 and a 25-second PR, beating my 21:47 from the Florence Turkey Trot.

The results were live right away and you could enter your bib number to check them, which I liked. The computers displayed if you won an age group award- also great if you weren’t sure and needed to leave. I needed to leave to go to my family barbeque, but I had enough time to stay for awards, which was good because I placed 2nd in my 30-34 age group. The computer removed the top/overall females, so I was #15 or #16 overall, not #10. I’m glad to be in 30-34 now because 25-29 females are super competitive.

Emily, Melissa, and I all set new PRs and won awards.


The race finish was pretty nice. We skipped the refreshments because the line was all the way down the steps of Southend Brewery, and I didn’t know what kind of refreshments were even up there (it was chicken strips, so I’m glad I didn’t go). I also skipped the post-race drinks since I had a 2 hour drive.

Melissa, Emily and I headed out for a cooldown on the course to see the costumed runners and throughout downtown to get some miles in, then headed back for awards. The costume contest awards were first, followed by overall winners and kids. Emily was 2nd overall and won cash, but then we had to wait forever for the kids awards. The kids age groups are 2 years, which is great because more kids can win, but takes forever with awards. The kids got trophies with a reindeer on top, and the adults received plaques.


The costume contest winners received gift cards for the local running store, Fleet Feet. Since Kendall (Snoopy) won the costume contest, he clearly got the best award.


All of us had a good time at the race, and I would run it again (despite the organizational issue with parking and lack of antlers). If my family gathering next year isn’t on the same day, I plan to hang out longer and enjoy the refreshments and beer garden.


Race Name: Reindeer Run 5K

Location: Charleston, SC

Date and Time: December 12, 2015, 9 AM

Entry fee: $35-40, family discount for 4 or more family members

Course: Closed course, completely paved in Downtown Charleston. Beautiful course with views of Charleston Harbor and Rainbow Row. USATF Certified.

Swag: Short sleeved white cotton t-shirt, blue drawstring bag

Post-race Food: Krispy Kreme donuts, water, gatorade, granola bars, appetizers from Southend Brewery (I didn’t get anything- the line was crazy long)

Weather: 64 degrees, 83% humidity, sunny and warm

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26 Responses to Reindeer Run 5K (21:22)

  1. Angela says:

    Congrats on a new PR! I think 2016 will bring you a sub 21 PR!

  2. Congratulations! I knew you’d get another good PR pretty soon here, based on your most recent PR, and it must be fun to see that happen. Plus, an age group award!

    Also, I keep reading these blogs and cannot believe how warm it is over there on that side of the country.

  3. Congrats on the PR. Not sure if you remember me, but I did a couple of runs in Summerville with David before moving here to Maryland. If you are interested in my progress, check out

  4. thisrunnersrecipes says:

    Congrats on your PR! 25 seconds is a pretty significant time in the 5K!I love the picture of the bulldog in a Santa costume – too cute!

    • Amy Lauren says:

      Thank you- it was very significant. I was surprised I ran that fast and PRed by that much. I have another 5K this Saturday, and I’m kind of nervous because I want the upward trend to continue, but I also want to recover too.

      I’m not really a dog fan, but all the dogs at the race were well behaved and most were dressed pretty cute.

  5. Hey Amy! I’ve been reading your posts, but I do apologize for not responding lately. Guess I’ve turned into one of those silent readers. But I do plan to start replying again! 🙂
    Congrats on being 2nd place! That’s amazing. And I was happy to be informed on what all the Reindeer 5K is. It seems like it’s one of the best, or at least for this season.
    Love Kendall’s Snoopy costume. Glad to hear that he got a prize.
    And you’re right, that is a shame about lack of antlers. It is a reindeer race! Ha. Hopefully you’ll get a pair next year if you run the same one.
    Oh, Ohio is dealing with your pain. We don’t have snow either. And it doesn’t look like it’ll snow for us this week. I see lack of snow in your photos, and that’s sad. 😦

    • Amy Lauren says:

      Thanks Becca! Kendall’s prizes were the best- he won a big gift card to Fleet Feet (local running store) and a few other gift cards. Looks like dressing up is the way to go for those of us who aren’t fast enough to win cash ;).

      I’m not sad we have a lack of snow. I hope I don’t see it at all, and living in Charleston… I probably won’t :).

  6. Congrats on the race- you are FAST!!!

  7. wanderwolf says:

    Congrats on the great PR!!! Your training over the hot, humid summer and fall paid off 🙂
    Way to go!

  8. Hollie says:

    Congrats Amy. You’ve been working so hard on 5ks so it’s awesome to see you get that PR, you deserve it. It sounds like a really nice well put together and fun race.

  9. That’s awesome! Congrats! I like that they had live results, that’s pretty cool 🙂

    • Amy Lauren says:

      Thank you. I liked the live results too- it’s helpful to know if you really need to stay for the awards ceremony or not (especially in a big race like this one). The fact that you could pull it up on your phone was an added bonus.

  10. Congrats all around Amy, a 25 second PR over the 5k distance is something to be proud of!!
    I foresee a sub 21 in your near future!!!!
    36 hours until the Cocoa Cup–you are so going to rock that race! im actually getting excited about it-more so about being around friends
    : )
    Rest up chica and get ready for another PR!
    (And don’t forget the Baileys!)

    • Amy Lauren says:

      Thanks girly! Not sure if sub-21 is in the cards for Saturday, as I may tempo it (especially with my throat hurting tonight), but we’ll see. I am very excited about it- it’s all about “being with” people and not “beating” people. I love the PRs in the 5Ks, but the real goal is staying healthy for Charleston, too.

      I gotta make a Bailey’s run… they ran out last night at Fleet Feet!

  11. Woohoo. Congrats on that PR. I LOVE that course.
    And uh-oh your’e in my age group now for Race the Landing. It is the one year we are in the same group. (I’ll be 34.)

    • Amy Lauren says:

      This age group has some speedsters too, but I am glad to be out of 25-29. A lot of people in our age group take hiatuses to have babies… ;).

      This was a really great run. I’m sorry you had to miss it with the injury. Hopefully you can do some of the fun ones later this winter or in the spring

  12. supereli23 says:

    Congrats on a new PR! This year has been good for you in gaining some serious speed!

  13. Pam says:

    As always your hard work seems to be paying off and that is an incredible time for a 5k. Congrats on your AG placement and another prize. I love your friend’s costume as Snoopy…very cute!

  14. Elizabeth C. says:

    HUGE congrats on such a major PR. I love the motto- run fast, take chances. You are so quotable! It definitely paid off and you can tell you put it all out on the line. You are getting soooo speedy! BTW, I don’t think I knew you were in your early 30’s. You look more like early 20’s! Keep up the amazing work!

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