It was a chilly December morning a few years ago. We were lounging in our drawing-room when we saw a strange scene outside. Several people dressed up as Santa ran along the flyover just across the street. That was our first tryst with Santa Dash. Of course, it was only later that we discovered Santa dash is nothing bizarre for anyone living in Liverpool. But being relatively new to the city at that time, it certainly was strange to see thousands of Santas running along the city roads.
What is Santa Dash?
It wasn’t long before we discovered more about Santa dash. Liverpool Santa Dash is an annual 5-kilometre fun run that happens in the first week (first Sunday) of December around Liverpool City Centre. Participants dress up as Santa Claus and run the five-kilometre stretch to support charity. It is one of the largest and long-standing fun runs in the UK. Liverpool Santa dash started in 2004, and people from all parts of the city and beyond participate in it.
Our Experience of Santa Dash in the Past Years
The following year, we were ready to watch it up close. We stood along the route to see the Santas run past. We were at a junction near our apartment block to cheer the Santas dressed in red (and a few in blues). Some creative people dressed up as elves, grinch and other interesting characters. People ran with kids, dogs, and we even saw people with limited mobility taking part in the event. The whole atmosphere was festive, with family members lined up on either side of the road tp cheer the runners.
The year after that, we missed the event but returned with more enthusiasm the following year. We did a vlog that year – catching all the fun and frolic. That’s when we learned more about the event and realised it was not just another fun run.
Running for a Cause
As mentioned before, Liverpool Santa Dash is not a competitive race. But that doesn’t mean it is not important. Though it is a fun race, the Santa Dash raises money for lots of different charities each year, and that’s why we decided to participate in the event this time.
This year (2021), Alder Hey Children’s Charity is the official charity partner for the Liverpool Santa Dash. Alder Hey recently launched its new £2.5million Surgical Neonatal Appeal to help develop a state-of-the-art unit for newborn babies and their families. Liverpool Football Club legend Jamie Carragher, who spent the first six weeks of his own life in Alder Hey’s neonatal ward, launched the new fundraising campaign in September. He was at the venue to cheer the Santas.
(By the way, if you are interested in making life better for kids by facilitating better hospital care, consider donating at least a small amount by clicking here.)
A Little Champion
An exceptional mini Santa – four-year-old Betty from Warrington – flagged off the event this year. She was born four months premature and overcame many challenges before she went home from the neonatal ICU – after a long period of 13 months. The Liverpool Women’s Hospital and Alder Hey medical staff stood with her during this challenging journey.
What’s the Story behind the Blue Suits?
Everybody knows that Santa is dressed in a red suit. So, what’s the deal with the blue suits that we see in Liverpool Santa Dash? Well, it has to do with the football rivalry between the two clubs in the city – Liverpool Football Club and Everton Football Club. Evertonians don’t particularly enjoy wearing the colours of their arch-rivals. Hence the organisers provide a limited number of blue Santa suits on a first-come, first-serve basis. So, hard-core Evertonians can run the race wearing their club’s colours and not LFC.
We wish to emphasise that despite the rivalry, both clubs and their supporters always come together when the city needs them. This solidarity often carries Liverpool forward even in the most troubling times.
Our Experience at the Santa Dash 2021
We were very excited to participate in the Santa Dash for the first time. We collected our Santa suits and other goodies from the collection centre the day before the race and arrived well in time at the venue (Canada boulevard). It was a cold, windy, and cloudy day, and the temperature must have been around 4 degrees or so. But, that didn’t dampen our spirits as we excitedly waited for the dash to begin.
Soon, the Santas took over the entire place. More than 5000 of us braved the elements and united for a good cause. Some were running for other charities as well. Fundraising runs are nothing new for the people here.
Get, Set, Go…
We were somewhere in the middle, walking to the starting point. Earlier, Betty and her family were on the podium. Now, Jamie Carragher was cheering us on. We walked past the platform and started the run. We ran to Albert Docks and then turned towards the city centre. Soon, we got tired and began walking (like most other Santas). We passed by some prominent city landmarks and reached Liverpool Town Hall. There we crossed over the finish line and collected our medals.
Heralding the Festive Season
Santa Dash is an integral part of Liverpool’s Christmas activities. People await the event to get into a festive mood. The drummers and various characters that greet us at the finish point add to the festive charm. The artificial snow also adds to the overall mood of the race. People cheering on from the sidelines and Santas clicking pics are sights like no other. The drummers from Katumba Drumming Group, Liverpool, provides much entertainment and motivation to the runners and onlookers. Watching them perform reminded us of the Panchari Melam performances we have in the temples of Kerala during festivals.
Mini Dash – Santa Dash for Kids
The Liverpool Santa dash has a mini dash of 1k for kids up to 12 years of age. This is one of the most popular events of the day and the little Santas make a cute sight. Our hearts melt at the sight of cute toddlers walking to the finish line. It is one of the most heartwarming sights ever.
Santa Dash – A Satisfying Experience
All in all, we enjoyed being a part of Liverpool Santa Dash 2021. We look forward to participating again next year. In these troubled times when social interaction is still somewhat limited, events like this help us feel a part of the community, bringing great joy and a feeling of belonging. Above all, the satisfaction of participating in a good cause is the best part, and there is no better gift than the joy one feels like a part of such events.
Hoylake-based race organisers BTR Liverpool organises the Liverpool Santa Dash. It is a leading independent organisation for creating, managing, and delivering headline race events across Liverpool City Region. Apart from the Santa Dash, BTR organises several runs such as the Liverpool Skyline Half Marathon, Mersey Tunnel 10K, and Port Sunlight 10K. BTR also has a runner’s group if you wish to be a part of a running team.
Check out the video of our Santa Dash here.
You can read some of our earlier blogs here.
If you participated in the Liverpool Santa Dash this year or before, share your experience with us in the comment box below.