The Chasing Santa 5K Race & Family Fun Walk/Run may not have begun, but the reason why 8-year-old Harley Rose, dressed as Cindy Lou Who, was there had nothing to do with some Saturday morning exercise with ehr motehr Margarita, who was dressed as The Grinch.
“I think he’s going to be here,” she said in a near-whisper. “I’m still waiting to see him.”
He is the real Santa Claus— not some mall stand-in; and as millions of children have learned, finding him is a tough task. Of the 664 registered runners, about 425 had on their Santa suits when they started the 5K at the University Village Center along Nevada Avenue near the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs.
The event was a fundraiser and collection drive for Marty’s Toy Box, an effort led by KBIQ 102.7 FM, KNZT 1460 AM and KGFT 100.7 FM. The run was put on by LYMevents, Inc. a local race company that does several charity events. The idea for the first annual event came from The Great Santa Run in Las Vegas that drew 8,072 participants last December.
“We will beat Vegas next year,” said race organizer Mike Pharis. “We started organizing this only three weeks ago and it was all word of mouth. We will start in June (2013) and make this a big event.”
Judging from the event’s popularity, that is certainly more possible than finding the real Kris Kringle in such a crowd. He is a busy man this time of year, after all. The event was so popular and news of the event spread so quickly through the city’s running community that they ran out of suits.
The family event was also dog-friendly. Many walkers took advantage of the chance to exercise their four-legged friends and put Christmas costumes on them. A few decorated their baby strollers too.
“Where else can you go on a run wearing a Santa suit?” asked Jennifer Jones.
The event also collected more than 250 toys. Part of the appeal was the chance to peel 30 seconds off your time with each new, unwrapped toy donated. While the event was hardly a competitive one, that had its appeal.
It was also a great way to prepare for the holiday parties and meals looming.
“This is a good time of year to get as many 5Ks in as possible to keep your metabolism going,” said Farrah Bourgois, woh ran with her children Emerson and Madeleine, husband Jeremy and husky Apollo.
But the event, mirroring the spirit of the season, is about aiding others.
“It’s all about helping the kids,” said Heather Grubert who heard of the event at the recent Waldo Waldo Fun Run, benefiting those affected by this summer’s Waldo Canyon Fire. “Times don’t matter. It’s all about a good cause.”