Last weekend, my daughter and I ran in the Guelph Santa Parade run. It was the second time we raced in our home town, and it was definitely a race to remember. I ran it in a full Santa suit. 

My daughter informed me before the race even started that she would not be running with me and that she would instead meet me at the finish line. She either has a very competitive edge or I’m too embarrassing (my Santa beard may not have helped my case…) or I’m too slow for her. Or maybe it’s a combination of all three, I don’t know.

RELATED: I’m facing my running fears

This race had a beautiful start, running along the quiet bank of Guelph’s Speed River. My mom and Aunt Susan were strategically placed along the route to cheer us on. They practically missed Ella as she whizzed by them. I, on the other hand, expended most of my energy waving frantically to them as I got closer. I stopped to give my mom a bearded kiss before I continued along my way.

The Santa beard was a welcome respite from the bitter cold wind and I wore it proudly. It was only when looking at the photos after the race, that I noticed that I was likely the only woman to have worn a beard. I kept it and I’ve decided that I may even wear it outside on frigid days. I had no idea how functional beards could be. Those bearded male runners living in cold climates definitely have it figured out.

Something that really makes this a one-of-a-kind race is that the route joins up the the parade route. While running, the streets were lined with waiting adults, children and dogs in festive costumes. Suddenly, at that moment, I realized how awesome it is to be a running Santa. The cheers started:“Way to go Santa!” and “Keep up the good work Santa!” Kids shouted at me: “It’s Santa!” Their outstretched, mittened hands were beckoning for high fives and I took the time to tap each one.

For many of the Santas, the finish time didn’t matter. It was all about the experience. Some Santas had bags of candy canes with them that they handed out to them as they ran along the parade route. It was only when I came towards the finish line that I realized that many of those wee outstretched hands along the route may have been looking for candy canes to land in them. Note to self: bring candy canes the next time I run in a Santa run.

Next up: the Christmas Story House run in Cleveland Ohio on December 3. This will be my epic grand finale to my 2016 races and I can hardly wait. I may even wear my beard…


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