Sometimes the holiday season can feel like a marathon - lots of running around and not enough fun.

On Dec. 17 at the Natick Soldier Systems Center, employees went in an entirely different direction by taking part in the first-ever "Jingle Bell Run" on the installation.

The untimed fun run took place on NSSC's new Fitness Trail, which rings the installation and covers 5,400 linear feet over compact gravel, dirt road, sidewalks and asphalt. The trail includes 18 fitness stations.

"The only thing we're missing is snow," said John Harlow, NSSC Public Affairs chief, who served as emcee for the event. "Remember, this is not a competition. It's only an exhibition."

Prior to the run, Donna Bulger won the prize for the best holiday-inspired costume. She received a free month of "Thirty Minutes to Win It" workouts with "Trainer X" Darin St. George.

"Donna Bulger seemingly ran with a sack full of toys for all the little girls and boys," said Col. Kevin Hillman, one of the costume judges. "I hope all the little girls and boys like air-filled balloons, because that's all they're going to get from Donna.

"It was good to see some folks out really getting into the holiday spirit. Thanks, everyone, for participating in the event. It made my day."

Bulger helped Lt. Col. Kari Otto, garrison commander, cut the ceremonial ribbon to open the new Fitness Trail.

"Are we ready' Are we freezing'" Otto said. "OK, enjoy the trail."

With that, the runners and walkers set out on a clockwise trip around the Fitness Trail. On their return, they enjoyed hot coffee and cider.

After the run, Paul Dinan cooled down in his Santa Claus costume.

"This is fun," Dinan said. "I took a little shortcut, though. My knees don't let me run.

"I like the trail. It's great. This is such a great location, you know'"

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16