What could push you, in a freezing December morning, to run for five km, but the genuine spirit of Christmas and the prospect a Santa suit for free.
Santa Run. Just the name makes you smile. It is a race organised by, “Do it for charity”, an association that organises sporting events for fundraising.
Affiliated with several charities, “Do It for Charity” is the creator of the Santa Run, an event that saw 2000 people run dressed as Santa Claus.
This year the race was held in Greenwich Park on December 4 in an atmosphere of celebration and joy.
Each participant ran to support a charity of his or her choice. Participants must have fundraised a minimum of £100 that will be donated to the association they want to help.
There were more than twenty charities involved in the race, including Amnesty International, Make a Wish and the Environmental Justice Foundation.
All the charity associations had their own stand with biscuits and hot drinks to support their athletes. They were all taking photographs to immortalise such great moments.
Kat, 26, running for Christina Aid said that the Santa Run was a really good occasion. “It is a easy way of raising funds and you can easily engage people.”
Her association had 29 runners to support it and she was sure that Christina Aid would continue to participate over the next few years.
Catherine, from Environmental Justice Foundation, said: “It’s honestly a really funny day out and a brilliant way to raise awareness and vital funds for all EJF international campaigns to protecting people and planet!”
Laughter could be the sound that best described the atmosphere at Greenwich Park. People of all ages could not help but smile while they were wearing their Santa suits.
It was possible to hear jokes everywhere. A young man said to his friends: “Look I lost weight” while, he was desperately try to tighten his huge red trousers.
A smiling girl, on the other hand, said, to her friends, behind her white beard: “I never felt so sexy”.
There were entire families of Santas, including children in buggies, grandparents and dogs, all religiously dressed up.
Asked why they were doing the run most of the people answered, unsurprisingly, because it was for charity.
Ruth, 32, who ran for Green House, enthusiastically said, “It is a great way for doing charity, much better than just giving money because you actually feel that you are doing something.” Her friend Emma said that this was the twelfth event in twelve months for Ruth.
She also adds, “Ruth is really determined- even if you cannot take the run too seriously when you are dressed in a Santa suit”.
Before the beginning of the run Ben Oakley, an artist who has a gallery in Greenwich, said that he participated for the charity but also because it was a way to be part of his own local community. He ran with some friends. This would be his first run but he was not worried. “It will be fun,” he said.
In the run winning was not important, but to avoid injuries, before starting, everybody had to do some warm-up exercises.
It was amazing to see hundreds of people wearing Santa hats, their white pompoms jumping up and down on the grass. You could feel the enthusiasm and cheerfulness.
All the families and friends of the runners were really supportive. They were encouraging the Santas to do their best.
Especially before the runners lined up, mums were hugging embarrassed teenagers, dads gave suggestions to their sons: “Do not run too fast at the beginning otherwise you will not able to get to the end.”
A girl, already in line, ran back just to give a kiss to her boyfriend before returning behind the red starting stripe.
Only before the starting signal it was possible to feel a little bit of competitiveness. Some of the participants were regular runners and they were taking the run seriously.
Suddenly a red flag started to move and the Santas seemed to be more than 2000!
Families and friends around the track support the athletes, taking photos and cheering as they run past.
The last of the Santas to make their way to the staring line was a family: mum and dad were running with two children who were on their scooters. Spontaneous applause came from the spectators.
Greenwich Park was full of red dots everywhere and all the people in the park, whether they were friends or families or complete strangers, were supporting the brave Santas.
When the first Santas arrived at the first checkpoint they had already lost part of their suit, the beard was too hot!
Even if they are really concentrated on running, one of them still had the breath to say to the crowd, “Merry Christmas”.