Exactly as it says on the tin! It was Aberdeen, it was 2010, and 1000’s of Santas were running!
I got up bright and early after a brilliant night’s sleep and enjoyed a bowl of power porridge with Saskia. Apple and blueberry oatmeal with mixed seeds and dried fruit on top and a dollop of chunky peanut butter to stir through.
We took a look out of the window and were delighted to see that the snow had continued it’s retreat and the skies were clear. It would be cold and crisp but the sun was glaring down and the skies were blue.
Since I knew I’d be running 6k with a thick, felt suit and hat on, what to wear was a bit of a dilema. I get *very* warm when I run, but I didn’t want to have exposed skin under the suite in case it rubbed. I went for a light wicking layer on top and capri pants on the bottom. Azul assumed the role of race stylist once more!
The race started and finished in Pittodrie Football Stadium, home of Aberdeen Football Club, aka the Dons. Luckily this is only a 10 minute walk from our home so Badger and I were able to head down at around 11.30am for registration. I collected my race pack and my suit – my first thought when I put it on was…
HOW BIG IS THIS?!?
The suits were ‘one size fits all’ which translated as an absolutely ginormous pair of trousers with a drawstring waistband which needed to be secured tightly in order to run safely! The top was a jacket which one fastened with this flimsy belt.
After I was all dressed up I had a little while to wait around. The inside of the stadium was really cold so I was trying to keep my heat – but it turns out that thick felt is pretty good at down that for you! Badger was suffering a bit but he was doing a stellar job of being my official photographer as usual!
There were a convoy of motorbikes which roared into the stadium which announced the commencement of proceedings. They also zoomed up and down the beach promenade as the runners made their way around the course.
I got a hug from the Wildhearts Reindeer! The race was organised by the Scottish charity Wildhearts which was founded in 2001 by a man named Mick Jackson whose life was transformed by tragedy during a record breaking attempt to become the first Scot to climb K2. Mick turned back during his attempt on K2 to save the life of his dying sherpa, carrying him for four days to safety. The experience taught him the true nature of humanity and he promised that if he was spared he would make a difference when he returned. WildHearts is the fulfilment of that promise; their main premise is do provide micro loans to small businesses in developing countries to allow them to get started. When the money is paid back it is re-lent again and again, making the potential for change infinite. In addition to fundraising events like the Santa Runs (held in Inverness, Aberdeen and Glasgow), they also have a not-for-profit Office Supplies company which operates under the same name.
All the Santas were assembled in front of the stadium for a mass warm up just before 1pm. The man in blue in the top picture is Mick Jackson. He was so happy and positive – so full of energy! He told us about Glasgow deciding to cancel their Santa run the day before and how pleased he was that us nutters up North were still chomping at the bit to get going despite the sub-zero temperatures – and along the North Sea as well!
There I am! Number 446. I wanted to run this race quickly so I made my way to near the front of the crowd; there were many children, dogs, prams, and toddlers on shoulders and I thought it in my best interest to not be dodging around such fragile fellow competitors! I made a strong start but it was mere paces before I realised what a pest the suit was. As you can see here I’ve already pushed my beard off (it was flying up in my face and fibres were getting stuck in my eyes and mouth) and my jacket was swinging open. In the later stages of the race this was very annoying as it filled up with wind and severely compromised my normally streamlined running figure!
This picture and the one above were taken by my friend Mike who is also a runner albeit one of far greater aclaim. Mike is an ultramarathoner and doesn’t bat an eyelid at running 50 miles for fun come a weekend, so his achievements give me something to aim for! Anyway, I didn’t realise he was there at all and in this picture I’m waving at my Mum and Dad.
The race was 6 kilometers along the Aberdeen Seafront – a favourite place for me to run. It looked a damn sight more pleasant to run along yesterday morning than it did the last time I blogged about a beach run…
Members of the public looked on in bemusement as the red army of Santas made our way along the Promenade. In retrospect I think I might have started out a bit fast, my phone GPS had splits of 8:10, 8:53 and 8:42, and the last .7mile was 6:02. That makes an average pace of 8:36 which isn’t too shabby really but I’m still confused as to why on a treadmill I can’t comfortably run with it set at more than 7mph?
Here’s me approaching the ‘finish’ – the race actually continues inside the stadium where we did a lap of honour around the football pitch!
The last picture of me in my suit. The beard didn’t last til the finish – I had to remove it after it showed it’s determination to morph into a face-hugging beast was to get the better of me. I had to get out of it straight afterwards – I was a sweaty mess! I chugged down a bottle of water and had a rumage through the goody bag – shortbread, a clif bar, raisons and a Trek protein bar. Tasty snacks which kept me refueled throughout the afternoon. Unfortunately we had to rush off as I had to go to work at 3pm which was a shame – but no rest for the wicked, as they say.
So 6km – 31m 2s. It wasn’t a chip timed race and I was relying on my CardioTrainer GPS phone app to track my pace and time, but I think it was fairly accurate. (Dear Santa Paws plz can I has a Garmin for Christmas??)
Lessons learned – don’t get carried away at the start and go fast just because everyone else is. No matter how hard you want to beat the girl in front of you who isn’t wearing the big Santa pants, as it doesn’t matter how fast she goes – she’s CHEATING!
Merry Christmas everyone! That’s my last race of the year. Next one is in 4 weeks and is another X-Country 3miler. Need to get out and about in some fields in the next month and practise running dirty again!