It was an early start (especially for a Sunday!) with registration opening at 9am and Bridgnorth being on the opposite side of the county from the small market town that I call home. Thankfully, it was a mild morning. The merest hint of wind or rain could well have seen me making a speedy retreat to under my warm duvet.
I was taking part in the Santa Dash with my daughter and a friend from our running club, whose mad idea it was in the first place. After collecting our outfits and identification numbers, we settled ourselves down in the local Wetherspoons to wait for the start of the race with a nice drink and a comfy seat. The hilarity commenced as we tried on our santa suits.
The costumes we had been given were not of the highest quality and designed to fit no one as far as I could tell. We all managed to get the trousers on over our running attire and I had more than enough safety pins to make any adjustments necessary. Unfortunately, no amount of safety pins could deal with the catastrophic seam ripping that occurred with every movement we made. From our Wetherspoons window seat, we could see other participants gathering and there was plenty of evidence of further wardrobe malfunctions in the gusset department. It was encouraging to see that the trousers of people of all shapes and sizes were suffering the same fate as ours. Concerns that maybe it was time for a bum trimming crash diet were forgotten!
As the start time for the race crept closer, we made our not entirely inconspicuous way to the starting point.
The race started and finished right in the middle of a very busy Christmas Market. The organisers made their best attempts to photograph the participants, give a safety briefing and route instructions but it was virtually impossible amongst the hustle and bustle of the market. This would prove even more difficult at the finish.
As we waited for the off, clouds cleared revealing a gloriously blue winter sky and bright sunshine - perhaps a little too bright and low in that gloriously blue winter sky. It was completely blinding. A group of a hundred or so squinting, blinded Santas ran through the market to the cheers of spectators they couldn't see.
The route was described as approximately 2.4 miles long, mostly flat with one gentle incline. I should have anticipated that what the residents of the dramatically undulating South Shropshire countryside classify as a 'gentle incline' would be closer to what their neighbours in relatively flat North Shropshire would call a long, steep, killer hill. I confess that it was more than I could manage to run all the way up that killer hill, especially given how much I was overheating in the non-breathable fabric of the cheap santa suit. I will be forever grateful that we abandoned any thought of actually wearing the trousers after the third seam splitting comedy ripping sound was the catalyst for more bordering-on-hysterical laughter back in Wetherspoons.
I have always admired the people that conquer the gruelling 26 mile marathon distance. Having had a small taste of how of it feels to run in fancy dress, I have considerably more admiration for the people who run their marathons dressed as chickens and bananas (etc!). I lost my beard before I even started running - it shed white fluff destined to be inhaled or swallowed far too easily. I wriggled out of the top part of the jacket about three quarters of the way round and the hat just had to come off shortly after.
There was lots of support on the way round for the spectacle of the sweaty Santas. However, as we approached the end and called upon our last reserves to go for the big sprint finish, we found our route through the market completely blocked by shoppers. I have never known a race where you have to dodge to the end saying 'excuse me please' repeatedly. It was a bit of an anti climax to an otherwise great run but we eventually squeezed our way through to the finish line via the back of the market stalls and collected our finishers medals!
|Squeezing through the crowded market to the finish line!|
It was a fantastically festive event and I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge of the run and the fun we had with garments not fit for purpose! Best of all for me was that the entry fee for the race was to raise money for the Shropshire Smile Maternity Charity that supports maternity units in the county. I always like to include some charitable activity at this time of year to counter the pressure to give in to the commercialisation of the holidays. This was lovely start to our Christmas celebrations.
|A well earned post race mince pie and coffee|