Last year, we continued our tradition of taking part in a Santa run by heading to Glasgow for the first time and we had such a great time that we were determined to take part in the event again this year. The 2014 race was scheduled for the 7th of December, the day after the inaugural Perth Santa Run, so we decided to go for it and make 2014 a Santa Run double-header!
Like last year, race entry was very simple via the Glasgow Council website and the price remained the same at £15 (including santa suit and medal). Unlike last year, we weren’t sent our race numbers in advance so planned to collect those when we arrived. We decided to just wear our Santa suits from the Perth Santa Run rather than collect new ones in Glasgow as this meant we would be able to get organised by the car rather than in the middle of the International Santa Convention (aka George Square) before the race, which is much more convenient.
So with our suits and a change of clothes in the car, we set off for Glasgow around 7:30am (racing in Glasgow is always an early start) to allow plenty of time to get parked, collect our numbers and join the throng of Santas in George Square. The weather was AWFUL on the way through with torrential rain and heavy grey skies around Stirling which made me very glad of the change of clothes I had packed (I didn’t think the man-made fibres of the Santa suit would provide much protection from the rain!) but fortunately by the time we got to Glasgow the skies were much clearer.
We arrived in plenty of time to get organised and headed straight for the toilets at Buchanan Galleries. Everybody else in there was dressed as Santa and everyone was saying good morning and being very friendly even though we were all complete strangers. That’s the thing about Glasgow, it’s always so friendly. I had carried my stuff along to the toilets with me and this pit-stop gave me a chance to get properly organised before heading down to George Square.
And what a sight we were greeted with when we got there – Santas as far as the eye could see! Tall santas, small santas, padded Santas, slim Santas, even some four-legged Santas! George Square was packed and what appeared to be thousands of Santas were already lining up behind the start line enjoying the pre-race entertainment (I heard later that over 5500 Santas had registered for the event). We headed into the City Chambers to collect our race numbers and came out to find it was snowing. That’s right, snowing! It didn’t last long, but it made the day feel so much more festive and as we joined the massed gathering of Santas in the start area, everyone was in great spirits.
Soon, there was a countdown and the Santas in the front got under way. For the rest of us, however, it was like one of those slightly anti-climactic marathon starts where the countdown ends, everyone cheers and nobody moves. Not even a step! But after much stop-start shuffling we eventually reached the start, waved to the real Santa (who had taken time out of his busy festive schedule to see us all off) and set off up St Vincent Street.
This start up St Vincent Street was one of my most abiding memories from this event last year as the road begins to head uphill and all that can be seen is a sea of red bobbing up and down. We had started quite far back so I could see this incredible sight stretching ahead of me and despite having intended to race, I was finding it tricky to get properly underway in the crowds so stopped for a moment to take a couple of photos as the crowd of Santas by now stretched right out to the horizon both ahead and behind me:
I decided at this point that I wasn’t chasing a time (having run hard in the Perth event the day before) and that since it was a fun run I would simply relax, run easy and soak up the atmosphere. I had no music so had no distractions from what was happening around me and I was glad of this as in many ways it was like the atmosphere during the Paris Breakfast Run. The high spirits from the start had continued into the race with people chatting to each other, calling out greetings to marshals and police officers and responding to the encouragement from the crowds (including a lot of horn honking both as we crossed a bridge over the motorway and from some council workers in a van). If I had been listening to music then I would never have heard the small boy who shouted out, “look, a building made of cheese!” as we passed the car park for the SSE Hydro. I can kind of see where he was coming from:
Perhaps the most heart-warming thing I saw during the course of that run was the guy who was pushing his daughter in her wheelchair, however the chair had been modified with decorated wood panels so it looked like Santa’s sleigh. Everyone who ran alongside them commented on it and it reminded me just why I love events like this – absolutely anyone can take part and have a blast (although you do have to be careful of the leads attached to those four-legged Santas!).
Although the weather was a bit colder than the day before, I had worn fewer layers under my Santa suit so wasn’t melting quite as much this time, but it was still getting a bit toasty in that suit so much as I was enjoying myself, I was ready for the finish line when it came. I had the advantage of knowing the route since it was the same as the year before so was able to pick up the pace a little and was delighted to stop my Garmin on EXACTLY 3.1 miles (5k)! I was slower than the day before with 29:19 (not including my photo stop) and slower than last year but I didn’t care as I set out to have fun and that’s exactly what I had.
Once over the line I was handed my snowflake medal and directed to a table to collect water. Steve was waiting by the table so we headed into the square together to take a couple of photos.
The lack of wicking fabric in the average Santa suit means that when you stop moving you get cold very quickly so we didn’t hang around in the square too long and instead headed back up to the car to change our clothes (which really meant removing the suits and adding some further layers) before going for a well-earned coffee and sweet treat before having a look around the shops (where I made a new festive pal!).
Once more, we had a fantastic day out in Glasgow and I really do recommend the Glasgow Santa Dash if you’re able to get to the city. Next year is their 10th anniversary and I heard the announcer mention that they are aiming for 10,000 Santas. We certainly plan to be there, and it would be great if you could join us.