Runners take off from the starting point of last month’s Phrosty 5K on Dec. 22. The annual event encourages participants to dress for the holidays. (Photos by Ian Campbell Photography) 

by Sue Ann Rybak

Unseasonably high temperatures were welcome in the Wissahickon last week for RunTheHill, the local running organization that held its fifth annual Phrosty 5K on Saturday, Dec. 22 at The Cedar House, 200 W . Northwestern Ave. in Chestnut Hill. The festive and fun free community event, which was organized by Amy Carolla and Schuyler Nunn (co-founders of RunTheHill), featured a 5K run and a one-mile walk.

The annual run invites participants to dress up in holiday attire and goes so far as to encourage runners to come in holiday-themed costumes.

Nunn said she and Carolla (owner of Balance Chestnut Hill) co-founded RunTheHill (formerly known as iRunTheHill), as “an all-inclusive, encouraging, supportive group that is open to anyone – who loves to walk, run, bike, exercise and or explore our local area,” in November 2014 because they wanted to build community and camaraderie in Chestnut Hill.

“Shortly after forming RunTheHill in November 2014, Amy and I organized our first Phrosty 5K,” she said. “It has grown a bit each year since, but this year, on the fifth anniversary, the festiveness was taken up to a whole new level with some fun and festive costumes including inflatables, Santa and his reindeer, and Christmas trees. We offered prizes, all donated by local businesses, for the fastest runners, the most festive costumes and categories we made up on the fly, such as the ‘naughty’ prize for the person who didn’t follow the directions on the turnaround. She ran more than three miles!”

This year, RunTheHill also collected in-kind donations of toiletries, blankets, socks and other items for Project HOME, a Philadelphia nonprofit that provides aid to the homeless through helping them find affordable housing, employment, healthcare and education.

Kristen Liebsch said she loves participating in the community event and encourages everyone to come out for some holiday cheer – even if they don’t run.

“There is something magical about a running event where Santa Claus and Frosty the Snowman are the road marshals, all the participants show up with donations for the homeless and prizes are awarded for best costumes instead of fastest times,” she said. “If you are feeling like St. Grincheslaus next December, this event will move your spirit.”

Jacqueline Lewis of Center City runs in the Phrosty 5K.

Jacqueline Lewis, who also participated in the event, said no other event “captures the spirit and whimsy of the season: fun, charitable, social, merry and utterly free.”

“I am so grateful to co-founders Amy Corolla and Schuyler Nunn for bringing us all together to kick off the holiday break,” she said. “How can something so Phrosty leave us feeling so warm? Neighbors reconnecting over the soundtrack of a rushing creek, merry laughter and the soft thud of good running shoes on a muddy trail: The Phrosty 5K is the happiest, jingliest run of the year. Just when I thought our holiday couldn’t get any happier, there was the Phrosty 5K starting complete with reindeers, fir trees, elves and Mrs. Claus herself wielding the starter pistol.”

Nunn added that they couldn’t do the event without the “amazing volunteers.”

“[We had] Lisa and Ava Schaner, helping with traffic and Kristen Liebsch and JT Lewis cheering along with a festive red megaphone,” she said. “In addition, Amy and I could not make the Phrosty 5K possible without the help of Lisa Walker. She is the behind-the-scenes force that makes all of the magic happen.”

Bridget Michener, who dressed up as a Christmas Tree at the run, summed up this year’s Phrosty 5K with a poem:

“One tree, two tree, Cookie Monster and more,” she wrote in an email to Nunn. “The Phrosty 5K was something magical to explore. Energy merry and smiles bright, on your marks, get set go, the reindeer took flight. Young and old and in between, good company was kept and the Wiss was truly serene. Supporting local businesses contributed gifts with care and Cedars House served hot cocoa, coffee and sweet treats to spare. Everyone crossed the finished line with hearts full and good intent to celebrate the season at the Phrosty 5K event!”

For more information about RunTheHill, go to facebook.com/groups/iRunTheHill

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