For a few years now, there has been talk of establishing a Santa Run in Perth and this year it finally happened. And with a Saturday lunchtime start, we were both able to take part on the 6th of December to kick off a weekend of “Santa running”.
Normally on a Saturday I would get up and run first thing, but with the later start time and no need to travel to the race, I found myself with a bit of time that morning and used it to get into the festive spirit by putting up our Christmas tree while listening to my favourite Christmas album!
Steve had collected our Santa suits and numbers the day before so we were able to get ready at home (which made a pleasant change from donning the red suit in a car park!) and I was quite content with my race number: se-VEN (to be said in your best Len Goodman voice!)
The race started outside Perth Concert Hall, so we just had a 5 minute walk to get there (and no queuing for toilets – luxury!) Stepping out of the flat, however, was one of those interesting moments when ABSOLUTELY NOBODY ELSE was wearing a Santa suit, so we stuck out a bit, but by the time we reached the concert hall there were Santas EVERYWHERE. I half expected to see Santas crawling out of drains and emerging from windows as people seemed to be arriving from every direction! There was a stage set up and everyone was gathering ready for the warm-up and announcements. We manoeuvred through the crowds and, despite everybody being dressed the same, we somehow defied the odds and spotted some people we knew to chat to!
After the warm-up, we were directed to the start line to get ready to run. Despite being reminded several times that it was a FUN run (including lots of wee ones) I still had my Garmin on as I like to keep a record of my running, even in events like this. As I lined up, a guy beside me glanced at the watch and, amused at my approach to a fun run, asked what would be a good time for me. To be honest, I wasn’t overly bothered by my time, but I did want to use this event as a marker to show where my running was a month into my comeback and measure my progress.
Soon, I could hear the Provost giving us the official countdown and the race was underway. As expected, I spent the first part of it dodging round slower runners in front of me, but in races like this it’s not worth getting upset about it. I had suspected I might be a bit too far back in the start area and in a mass participation fun-run it will always be harder to get underway if you’re not right at the front.
The route itself was nice, involving some road closures to give us a bit more space. I actually found it a bit weird to be running along the middle of such familiar roads as I’ve never done that in Perth before!
From the concert hall we headed along Mill Street, took a left then another left onto the High Street which had been taped off to keep those not involved to the sides. It was great to see how many people had turned up to cheer on the Santas and I had a big smile on my face as I ran down the street past the Christmas market stalls and festive shoppers.
One of the best parts of the race was reaching the bottom of the High Street by the River Tay and seeing the sea of Santas beginning to stretch out across the bridge. We were running on the pavements here (as opposed to the closed roads up to this point) so it was a bit narrower, but everyone was in great spirits and there were a few familiar face out marshalling so I was able to call out to them and hear some encouragement in return.
We crossed the bridge, took a left then left again further along to re-cross the river on the old bridge. There were still Santas on the first bridge at this point so I enjoyed the view as I glanced across before looping down under the old bridge and joining the North Inch.
By this point, I was absolutely roasting! Those Santa suits are not exactly a technical fabric so even though they are quite thin, it gets warm very quickly. Added to this was the fact that Steve had told me it was cold and I should wear an extra top underneath, so as I began the second half of the race I was cursing him as it was just too complicated to start removing layers. Nothing for it but to keep going and deal with it!
As I ran along by the river I was glancing across to the other side of the Inch in the hopes of seeing the lead Santa approaching the finish, but there was no sign of them just yet. I did, however, get a chance to see some of the other Santas as there was a short out-and-back section at the top end of the Inch with a turning point so I was able to see who was ahead of me and say hello to people I knew.
The final push was along past Bell’s Sports Centre on the path I have been using for my running drills recently. I was absolutely melting and my Santa jacket was hanging off one shoulder so I must have looked a bit of a sight, but it was time to dig in and head for the finish. Just beyond Bell’s I heard someone shouting out, “come on number seven!” and turned to see a good friend from work who was visiting Perth for the day along with another of our former colleagues. They had decided to come along and watch the race as part of their visit and it was a nice surprise to have somebody I knew there to cheer me on.
Finally, the finish gantry was ahead of me, just off the path on the grass. I was worried about slipping in the mud so my ‘Santa sprint” was curtailed a bit, however I crossed the line with 27:52 on my watch and was handed my goody bag and bottle of water before heading off to find Steve. I found him clutching a gigantic cracker and having his photo taken – he had won!
I hastily located my medal inside my goody bag and made sure I got my post-race photo taken too:
The race organisers had agreed a number of offers and post-race treats with some local businesses, so after chatting to a few running friends, we set off clutching our list of offers to see what we could acquire. First up, a free cone at Janetta’s!
Going for an ice cream in December wouldn’t normally be on my list, but it was delicious. I had Scottish tablet flavour and Steve went for mince pie flavour. I’m guessing it was good as he devoured it so quickly that I didn’t even manage a wee lick to taste it! Funnily enough, there were quite a lot of people at Janetta’s (only the first 50 were getting a free cone!) so we had a chat to some friends and I admired the amazing festive desserts that were on display:
While eating our cones we headed over to Lakeland where there was mulled wine and a mince pie on offer for Santa run participants who were still in their suits. I love mulled wine so we weren’t going to miss out on that one – I think we might have been among the first to get there!
Finally, since it was a Farmers’ Market day, we went off to see if we could claim a couple of the vouchers for money off food (there were only 50 available) and we were in luck. Our friends from a local Indian restaurant were making street food so we opted to try some of their curry which was delicious!
There were an assortment of other discounts available, however these were the ones which most interested us, so curry in hand we headed home to get changed and inspect our goody bags:
There was the all-important medal (there had been two designs on offer so it was pot-luck which one you got), water, the discount/offer list, a candy cane, some Haribo, a mini-cracker and a voucher for a podiatrist/running shop in Fife. Not too bad for a fun run!
The Inaugural Perth Santa Run was a great start to our Christmas celebrations. The event was well-organised, the route was good with plenty of support, there was a decent goody bag and the local offers were a real boon. I even managed to run my fastest time since starting to run again last month – bonus! Hopefully this race will be back on next year and if you’re in or near Perth then I definitely recommend it.
Ho ho ho!
The Running Princess