The festive season is getting well underway. There has been some recent dabbling in Christmas activities such as the Reindeer Run and last week Steve and I ventured on to the outdoor ice rink in Perth for our annual reminder that we are most definitely NOT Torvill & Dean!
This weekend, however, the festive spirit truly took over. Saturday was spent putting up our Christmas tree (under the watchful eye of my tree supervisor, Morven) and in the evening we cracked open one of our favourite Christmas movies: Elf.
All of which really put us in the Christmas mood for today’s excursion. Can you guess?
That’s right, a Santa run! It has become a tradition for us to take part in a Santa run every December. For the last 3 years, this has been in Edinburgh and we have combined our run with a visit to the Christmas Market. This year, for a variety of reasons, we decided to check out the Glasgow Santa Dash instead, which was taking place on the same date as the Edinburgh Santa Run. We’ve never been through to Glasgow at Christmas time so were keen to see what they had to offer, but we do still plan to visit Edinburgh next weekend since we really enjoy the market there and seeing the nation’s capital all lit up for Christmas.
The race cost a very reasonable £15 (which included a Santa suit, but we didn’t actually claim ours as we had some from previous races so decided to save time by taking our own with us) and we were able to sign up via the Glasgow City Council website. On Friday, our race packs arrived with our race numbers, race info and sponsor forms if we wanted to raise money for the chosen charities (this was not compulsory and we opted not to since we will be asking pretty much everyone we know to support our fundraising activities next year). We had already checked out the route map on the website and were looking forward to the 5K loop which started and finished in George Square.
With the race starting at 9:30am, it was an early start, leaving Perth around 7:30. With a quick “pit-stop” en route, we were parked and suiting up around 8:45. Since it was early, pretty much everybody in the car park was also wearing a Santa suit and anybody who was not was most definitely in the minority! There was enough time for a final toilet stop in the Buchanan Galleries (again, all Santas!) before walking down to George Square.
Now I always feel like the start of a Santa Run looks like some sort of crazy Chris Cringle convention, but this was incredible – over 3300 Santas, Mrs Santas and Santa juniors all gathering together as far as the eye could see.
The start line was on St Vincent Street, the same as for the Great Scottish Run, which of course meant an opening half mile straight UP St Vincent Street!
As the Santas massed behind the start line, we were first treated to a warm up (although it was a bit of a squeeze!) followed by some words from a local councillor who welcomed us all but, quite rightly, also drew our attention to the tragic events at the Clutha just a week ago and a silence was observed out of respect to the victims and all others who had been affected. Soon after that, we were counted down and the event began.
In an event like this there will always be some good-natured jostling and weaving at the start to get some space, but since that start was uphill and not a “serious” event, that didn’t bother me. One thing that did amuse me was all the discarded bits of Santa outfits strewn along the road, particularly hats which seemed to be every few paces. I could feel the bobble on the end of mine bumping lightly against my head and my beard was flapping around my neck (I can’t wear it across my face as I end up choking on the synthetic fibres – not a good look!). There were photographers on the hill and lots of runners were stopping to take photos of their own. I had started fairly near the front, and as I reached the top of the hill turned around to take in the view behind me. Sadly I didn’t have my phone handy to capture the sight of a 3000+ sea of Santas, but you can take my word for it that it was fantastic!
From the top of the hill we continued along St Vincent Street, crossing one of the bridges over the motorway and heading briefly downhill as we made our way towards the junction with Finnieston Street and a left turn at around 1.25 miles. I wasn’t particularly paying attention to my pace as it wasn’t that important to me, but I think the first mile was completed in just over 9 minutes, which given the uphill half mile was pretty good.
We followed Finnieston Street for roughly an quarter mile, before again taking a left turn onto the Quay and running along by the river and back towards the Broomielaw and the city centre. Somewhere along there we ran under the Kingston Bridge which was pretty cool! By this point I had a good amount of space and was trotting along at a decent pace, despite feeling somewhat toasty in my Santa suit! Mile two in roughly 8:25.
With less than a mile to go we turned left for a brief stint on Brown Street before a right turn onto Argyle Street towards the Heilanman’s Umbrella. For the uninitiated, this is local nickname for the glass-walled bridge which carries the platforms of Central Station across Argyle Street. There were quite a few people out cheering along this section and as we reached the St Enoch Centre and the left turn onto Buchanan Street, I spotted a wee girl with a sign which simply said, “Go Santa”. Indeed!
The final section of the route took us along the flattest part of Buchanan Street and past the Tardis. Yes, The Doctor is a frequent visitor to Glasgow!
I seemed to be getting faster – mile three was about 8:17 and I was still picking up the pace as I turned right onto St Vincent Street and back towards the gantry for the finish, finally crossing the line in about 26:29. Not bad given the crowds and fancy dress! As we crossed the line we were encouraged to keep moving forward to collect our medals and a bottle of water. I really like the medal which is snowflake shaped with a picture of a running Santa on it!
Steve was waiting for me and we headed over to the big Christmas tree in George Square to take some photos:
Following this, it was time to continue our Santa Run tradition by heading to a well-known coffee retailer for a festive beverage whilst in our Santa suits. We both love the fact that on this one occasion we can wander around in the suits like it’s perfectly normal and absolutely nobody will bat an eyelid! On the way there, I couldn’t resist a little homage to Elf:
Still under the influence of last night’s movie, I opted to stick within the 4 main elf food groups as detailed by Buddy the Elf – candy, candy canes, candy corn and syrup. For me, this meant an orange mocha and a candy cane. Very festive!
Suitably refreshed, it was time to go and check out the Christmas market down by the St Enoch Centre. This is a smaller market than in Edinburgh, but we were still able to enjoy a Glühwein and a bowl of goulash for lunch before setting off for a quick look around the shops before heading home tired, but happy.
To my mind, the Glasgow Santa Dash is a superior race to the Edinburgh Santa Run. In Edinburgh, the route is confined to a couple of laps of Princes Street Gardens, which is not particularly long, and the 2nd lap is generally spent shuffling along behind walkers and families. The Glasgow route, on the other hand, is a full 5K loop with roads closed and a much better atmosphere. It is a bigger event and throughout the route there are opportunities for spectators to cheer on the participants and often there were drivers tooting their horns in encouragement as we ran by. I definitely prefer the christmas market in Edinburgh, but for festive running, it will definitely be the Glasgow Santa Dash from now on.
Have you taken part in any festive races or got any coming up?
Do you enjoy running in fancy dress?