After getting up a little after 7 this morning, jumping in the shower, and having a shave, I pulled on a bright red Santa suit, and joined the rest of the family downstairs. I looked almost exactly like Santa for a couple of minutes - right up until I bent over to tie up my running shoes, and ripped the backside out of the trousers. My youngest daughter instantaneously exploded in laughter.
Guess who walked to the park to take part in the annual Santa Fun Run with only half a Santa suit? I must be special or something.
A little while later, three thousand Santas had gathered in the park by the river - slowly making their way to the “start funnel”, ahead of a 5 kilometer “fun run” around the town. Fun my arse. It was more of an obstacle course for the first ten minutes - trying to avoid dogs, dog leads, small children, and pushchairs among the thousands of runners. Apparently the very clear instructions that strollers and dogs should start at the back was completely ignored by the legions of “the rules only apply to other people” idiots.
I ran with my youngest daughter, my eldest daughter, and my mother in law. Our middle daughter has been at a hockey tournament with her school team all day.
Throughout the first two thirds of the run I managed to keep everybody together - picking our way through the legions of people that had begun walking, and were now blocking everybody behind them from getting through. As we did so, our youngest daughter started to pull ahead, and I chose to go with her, rather than hang back with the others.
She flew. It was interesting to run with her, and to try and keep a lid on her enthusiasm. I knew we still had a fair distance left. During the last kilometer she made a comment about wanting a rest - I pointed out how many people we were now passing that had begun walking, and she did the opposite - increasing her speed. Our track on Strava is pretty funny - throughout the race, each kilometre after half-way is significantly faster than the one before.
Before we knew it, we were back in the park, passing people left, right, and center. After crossing the finish line hand-in-hand, we were given medals, bananas, and chocolate bars. A local church had setup serving free hot chocolate to runners - much appreciated, and really rather wonderful in that moment.
Rather miraculously, while sipping our drinks we turned back towards the finish line, and saw the rest of our group through the crowd at the same moment they saw us. I waved, and we smiled.
While picking our way back through the growing sea of Santas in the park, my eldest daughter and I bumped into one of the coaches of the Couch to 5K course - the course she didn’t finish…
“YOU DID IT! CONGRATULATIONS!”
Miss 19 grinned, and looked at her shoes.
“You do realise this means you can come get your certificate and shirt now, right?”
The smile on Miss 19’s face was priceless.