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Santas run to get ready for the season
Santa Claus has never had the opportunity for this type of anonymity.
The Chasing Santa 5K, held Saturday at the University Village Colorado, had everybody seeing red suits. And white beards.
The race organizer distributed 425 Santa suits, which was all he could get in short time frame of putting together this inaugural event. Many of the 665 participants brought their own Kris Kringle outfits.
It’s the only place where Santa could successfully have been in the Witness Protection Program. Fittingly, the primary beneficiary of the run was a drive to gather toys for needy children. Enough toys were collected to fill a hot tub and the trailer hauling it.
Race organizer Michael Pharis began his company, Leave Your Mark Events, 14 months ago but the logistics involved with the Chasing Santa 5K, meant that he only had eight weeks to promote it. It was a word-of-mouth campaign.
Tonya Holliday, appropriately named, found out about the event at the Turkey Trot, which was held on Thanksgiving.
“All of the fun runs I’ve done have been (advertised) at another fun run. Any time you get to dress up, do a run for exercise and it benefits the community, it’s always a good idea,” she said.
She joked that she was running as a part of a group which consisted of “the people who wanted to get up early on Saturday morning and dress like Santa Claus.”
Missy Brizgis also found out about it at another run.
“We did the Waldo Waldo and they had a booth so we grabbed a flyer,” she said. “We were excited because we got a Waldo costume there and a Santa Costume here. It’s all about the costumes – and the cause.”
Another participant with a proper name for a Santa-inspired event, Candy Paine, found the Chasing Santa 5K by Googling 5K fun runs/walks. Felicia Barnhart, who ran with her husband Cris, daughter Haley and son Ian, learned about it via her employer, the city of Colorado Springs Therapeutic Rec Department. A group of seven students from the Air Force Academy Prep School found out about it from their sergeant. Regardless of how they learned of the Chasing Santa 5K, runners thought it was a great idea.
It wasn’t original, though. Pharis was a volunteer at the Great Santa Run in Las Vegas last year, an event that drew a remarkable 8,872 entrants.
“Next year we are going to start promoting it much, much earlier,” said Pharis’ wife and co-promoter, Anne. “We’ll have a few thousand suits for next year. We’re ready to rock and roll next year with a much bigger event.”
How much bigger only time will tell, but if Pharis has his way, all of north Nevada Ave. will be painted red.“We put this whole thing together in eight weeks,” he said. “Next year we’re coming out here more organized and start promoting in June."
“We’re going to beat Vegas,” Michael Pharis predicted.