Sprinting Santas, running reindeers and ambling elves all spread some festive cheer as they took to their marks in aid of a local hospice.
248 runners, young and old, made a dash for the cash as St Teresa’s Hospice ho-ho-hosted their eighth annual Santa Run.
Decked in red suits and white beards, Father Christmases of all ages took part in the 5K Santa Run, from the grounds of West Park Academy, after a countdown from Darlington Mayor Nick Wallis and president of Darlington Rotary Club Sue Campbell.
The run, which has to date raised in excess of £30,000, helps fund the hospice on Woodlands Road, Darlington, which provides free care for people in Darlington, South Durham and North Yorkshire affected by life-limiting illness.
St Teresa’s Hospice chief executive Jane Bradshaw said: “The Santa Run is a real family event, full of festive fun and it’s wonderful to see so many people and dogs here today helping to support the hospice.
“Everyone really goes to town on their outfits and enters into the spirit of the event – and it is because of these fantastic supporters and their amazing efforts that we continue to sustain our fabulous hospice for the people of Darlington and the local districts. We are grateful to West Park Academy for allowing us to use the school grounds, and to our sponsors and supporters the Rotary Club of Darlington, Darlington Lions and 1st Stop Party Shop, for their help this year”
The course was marshalled by volunteers from the Rotary Club and Darlington Lions and festive runners were also able to boost hospice funds prior to the run with a tombola prize draw and gift stalls manned by hospice volunteers.
Veteran runner Peter Martin, 77, of Darlington, who has taken part in six of the eight St Teresa’s Santa Runs, said: “I only started running eight years ago when I took part in my first Santa Run, simply to help the hospice.
“St Teresa’s is a wonderful place and it’s great to be able to take part in such a fabulous event.”
Sisters Claire Mathieson and Leanne Bellow, of Darlington, took part in memory of their father Michael Timpson who was cared for at St Teresa’s Hospice before he passed away in December 2016.
“St Teresa’s was an oasis of calm in what was a very sad time for us,” said Claire, “Everyone was so brilliant, we got fantastic support while dad was in the hospice and afterwards which meant so much to us.
“This run is the first we’ve done together and is a warm-up for The Great North Run, which we will both do next year on what would have been dad’s birthday, all in aid of the hospice.”