There are a few events in the countdown to Christmas that truly bring the community together in Chester. From the light switch on, filled with bright fireworks and beautiful dances, to the change of season parade (those puppets scare the absolute life out of me).
But there’s one event which stands out amongst the chaotic Christmas parties and remembering to buy tickets for the kid’s nativity play; the 8th annual Santa Dash hit Chester this weekend and received record numbers with over 1700 people from around the county dressing up as our favourite jolly man.
The event started at 10am from the University Of Chester Riverside Campus and circled all the way through the town centre to conclude at Bridge Street.
Worn out racers were handed water and candy canes as well as a medal for completing the 3.3k run.
“It’s become a part of the Chester Christmas Calendar,” says Kathy Kenney, Event Fundraiser for the Countess Of Chester Hospital. “I’ve been here from day dot and it just seems like the event is getting bigger and bigger each year. Last year it was about 1200 runners and now over 1700! Its a fun, community event, not just for Chester but the whole of Cheshire…and it helps a good cause! We’ve raised over a quarter of a million from the Santa dash so we’re excited to find out how much was raised this year!”
Countess Charity Is best known for their baby grow appeal but raises money to support 80 different patient care causes across the hospital.
The Hospice Of the Good Shepherd aims to help patients and their families with life limiting illnesses, providing therapies and bereavement care to help them get through difficult times.
“Many of those running the race do it to give back to the hospital. Both my children were born there and they’ve been looked after by the Countess whenever they’ve been sick,” says Sue Bennett, another hospital fundraiser who ran the race. ” We’ve been surrounded in thousands of Santa suits for at least a month now. Normally I’m sat in that registration tent taking down the names and giving running numbers out. But I wanted to give back this year; The Countess of Chester Hospital has done so much for me and my family. They work so hard for everyone they help. This is the community’s way of saying thank you and giving back properly”.
Many of the runners we spoke to yesterday had a story as to why they were running. Whether it be for the benefit of the Countess charity or just a fun way of bringing the group together.
Most, if not all the racers, finished the run by the end of the hour, and with tinsel covered buggies and dogs dressed as reindeers in tow. With the street flooded with the bright red of the Santa suits it was incredibly difficult not to notice the sense of community. So many groups of people were mixing and chatting, work colleagues or friends of friends.
Those who ran the 3.3k, jogged or even walked. All did it for the same reason, to say thank you to the hospital and the charity that had helped them when they were sick or looked after loved ones. As an outsider looking in, it felt like one big get together, saying thank you and giving back.
If you want to make an extra donation to the cause, didn’t get chance to run or want to donate on behalf of a loved one, click on the links earlier in the article.