Photo Gallery: Jingle Bell Run at the Oceanfront

On Saturday morning people ran, walked and jogged in a 5K to raise money for arthritis.

But participants weren’t dressed in typical athletic wear. Instead, they sported holiday garb inspired by holiday jolliness.

About 600 participants sporting polar bears, snowflakes and tiny bells that jingle while they trotted on their sweater invaded Virginia Beach for the annual Jingle Bell Run. This year, the event was record breaking, according to the run’s development manager Kim Hudson.

“It’s the largest Jingle Bell Run in our history here in Virginia Beach,” Hudson said in an interview. “We raised over $80,000, which is huge for us.”

The proceeds will benefit the Arthritis Foundation, which hosts different versions of this event across the U.S. in states like Michigan, Maryland, Texas, California and more. Locals affected by the joint disorder had a chance to speak about it at the award ceremony at 24th Street Park.

But the man who won took first place didn’t dress up in festive clothing to compete. Nineteen-year-old Army member Evan Ward said it’s a chance to physically train.

“I’m just trying to run another 5K and be involved with the community,” Ward said. “I can push myself a lot harder in these races than I can on my own, so it’s fun.”

To celebrate his victory, he plans to take it easy and recover for a road race he competes in on Sunday.

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