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Joggers Fill Prospect Park with Sounds of Holiday Spirit

By Jesse Lent | December 8, 2012 5:42pm | Updated on December 8, 2012 5:43pm

PARK SLOPE — The sound of thousands of tiny sleigh bells echoed through the fog in Prospect Park on Saturday morning, as four thousand runners participated in the third annual Jingle Bell Jog, organized by New York Road Runners to benefit its youth programs.

The four-mile run features many of the runners in holiday attire, including Santa hats, reindeer antlers and with miniature sleigh bells attached to their sneakers.

According to 29-year-old marathoner Cynthia Narozny of Queens, the bells are the best part.

“I like hearing the little jingle bells as people are running,” Narozny said. “A race in Prospect Park is always fun.”

Participants in the non-competitive run made three loops around the exterior of the park, before ending up in its center. Although some participants finished the race in as little as 20 minutes, everyone got a finish-line welcome, said Peter Ciaccia, a vice president for the New York Road Runners.

“Your faster runners run five-minute miles,” Ciaccia explained. “The older guys run 12 minute miles. We leave the finish line open. We want everyone to have the finish line experience. So we wait for the last runner to cross the finish line.”

Ciaccia says the last runner ran the race in roughly 90 minutes, but he stressed the non-competitive nature of the event.

“[We have] runners of all different shapes and sizes and speeds—and walkers too,” he said. “Everyone runs at their own pace.”

Luminaries showed up at the Jingle Bell Jog too, including Chancellor of the Department of Education Dennis Walcott, and Councilwoman Letitia James, who delivered a speech.

An estimated one thousand kids, between the ages of 8 and 13 also particpated in the run.

Fifth grader Gus Roder said he had a distinct goal in his head as he ran his first-ever race: “Don’t fall down in the middle,” said the 10-year-old.

His favorite part of the race was talking to the other runners, he said. When asked what about, he said two of his favorite things.

“Basically just video games and bagels."