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The Great Edinburgh Santa Run Celebrates its 10th Anniversary with Festive Frivolity

The annual Santa Run;  you couldn’t ask for a healthier way to start the holiday season….exercise, fresh air,  music, laughter, all shared with thousands of ‘Santas’ coming together to support a great charity, When You Wish Upon a Star

Over the years, I’ve seen the pictures and heard the stories.  Thousands of Santa’s helpers, all decked out in red and white suits, running to raise money to help grant wishes for children living with serious illnesses. I’ve never been to the event and this year when I realised I was in town – instead of watching, I decided to join in and I picked the perfect year to do it!  2014 was the 10th anniversary of The Great Edinburgh Santa Run, organised in support of When You Wish Upon a Star.

Because of the 10th anniversary, in addition to the 2km and 5km runs, there was an option of a 5km walk around the old town.  Even though I’m NOT a runner, I decided to do the 5km run.

I did manage a couple of training sessions but when I woke up on Sunday morning I was still a bit nervous.  I wasn’t sure what the weather had in store.   Would I trip over my ‘one-size fits all’ Santa Suit?  Would I be passed by all the little kiddies also taking part in this fun run?  Would my team leave me behind?

My husband and I got an early start so that we could collect our suits, get changed and enjoy the pre-race festivities.  Registration was easy.  No lines and only took a minute (darn I could have stayed in bed a little longer).  It was only 9:30am but already we could see ‘Santas’ everywhere we looked; wandering the streets and in the windows of cafes, having a pre-race pick-me-up.  We made quite a spectacle outside our car on George Street, nearly falling over with laughter as we tried to get into our suits.  The long trousers needed to be hiked up to our chins to stop us from tripping during the run.  Next came the bathrobe style jackets, the plastic belt, fake fur beard and red felt Santa hat. ..

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There were showers forecast for the afternoon but so far it was grey, windy but dry!  Which was a good thing, as our free suits looked like they might disintegrate if they got wet.  We shuffled over to the Ross Bandstand where hundreds of Santas were already gathered.

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Big Santas, little Santas, old Santas, young Santas, and even doggie Santas enjoyed the music and dancing that was part of the pre-race entertainment.

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It was nearly start time.  Two instructors from Pure Gym got us warmed up with festive aerobics; with a few Santa’s splitting their seams with over-zealous lunges and squats.   Good thing everyone had their running lycra under the Santa suits!

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And how do you start a ‘race’ in Scotland – with drums and pipes of course!  It’s a sound I love so much that I just can’t stop watching this video..

Trying to squeeze thousands of walkers and runner, dogs, children, strollers onto a 4 foot wide path meant that we were off to a slow start.  Fine with me.  My training sessions always started with a short walk before upping my pace to a slow jog, so this suited me perfectly.  Eventually the crowd spread-out and picked up speed.  My husband is a born competitor so he was ready to ‘race’ and kept me at a good pace as we darted on and off the path, into the muddy grass as we dodged the walkers.  This  mix of abilities definitely makes this a ‘fun-run’; it would be quite a challenge to run this as a race – and playing  ‘dodge the Santas’ actually added to the laughter and made the 5 laps go faster.  The pipe band that gave us our send-off repositioned themselves on the final corner – giving a needed lift to each lap.

The weather was starting to turn; our red suits protected us from the light drizzle and kept us very, very, very warm.  Luckily we just had one lap left.  One last blast of pipes and drums and we were on the final straight.  Five laps of Princes Street Gardens finished! My first event and my first medal – soon to become decorations on our tree…

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As the rest of the runners and walkers finished their laps we stuck around for more on-stage entertainment, including an award for best dressed pooch.  The winner was…..Piper, the little Christmas tree.  I think it was the little red leg warmers that won it!

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The rain started to get heavier so we made our way home, both so happy to have been part of this great day.  We exceeded our fund raising goal, I completed my first event and we loved all the festive music, entertainment and the whole atmosphere of the day.  We will definitely do this again – and recommend it to everyone.  If you’re not a runner you can walk the 2Km or the 5Km, you’ll get a funny suit and feel part of something special.

During my run, I switched on the Strava App on my phone and guess what!  I didn’t run 5Km – I ran 5.9!!  Looks like each lap was a bit longer than 1Km and I’m sure weaving in and out of the slower Santas added a few 100 metres too.

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