SANTARUN, Newtown, Wales

People around the world have been celebrating Christmas with their own traditions and practices. Newtown, Wales is an example. Newtown is the home of the original Santa Run hosting the world’s first ever Santa Run in 2001 and is organized by charity.

Held on Sunday either late November or early December, a sea of Santas fills the streets of Newtown for a festive charity fun run dubbed as Santarun. Participants dressed in red and white Santa costumes all gather at 10 in the morning to run a long-distance race. This race must be done in less than 3 hours with some experienced runners finishing it within 18 minutes or less. All the Santa’s running in the race are all like St. Nicholas giving gifts especially to the needy. Registering for the event costs £10 for adults and £5 for children all of which goes to charity. The proceeds are divided equally to a charity of each competing Santa’s choice and to Dial-a-Ride. District Dial-a-Ride is one of the organizers of the Santarun and is a community charity providing transport for the elderly and people with disabilities.

This major event is being held every year in Newtown, Powys with the route starting in the High Street. The route for the race is flat and wheelchair friendly and also provides a shorter version for children. This route is more than four-and-a-half miles or over seven kilometers.

The Santa run was another great idea thought up in a pub. It was then implemented by Newtown together with District Dial A Ride and has since then become an annual charity fundraising event. The organizers were able to give the event a national fame with the help of the media like different news outlets and a segment on Blue Peter. Santarun in Newtown, Wales is the world’s first “official” Santa run. It started in 2001 with 500 participants. It was then given an international recognition when it broke the world record for Most Santa’s congregated in one place in 2004. The former world record by Bralanda in Sweden gathered 2,685 Santa’s in 2002 while Newtown, Powys gathered a record-breaking 4,260 Santa’s in 2004. The uniqueness of the event made people coming from all over Britain to descend on the town to be able to take part in the festive charity fun run.

The SantaRun became a victim of its own success.  The Santa run fundraising event had become so successful for a number of years that similar events popped up all over the the United Kingdom as well as in other parts of the world. With this, that one day of the year where the sleepy market town of Newtown turned into a thriving sea of red and white has long been gone. Santarun of Newport, Wales no longer runs anymore. Due to hundreds of similar events popping up all over the country, it reduced the uniqueness of Newtown’s fundraising event. It couldn’t get the publicity it needed to get enough runners. Before, hundreds of Santa’s congregated to take part in the World-Famous Santa Run but now they no longer need to specifically go to Newtown because there is likely the same event near them. The decline is evident with a record of 3,445 participants six years ago down to a mere 200 at the end.

The festive charity fun run organized by the charity Newtown and District Dial A Ride has raised at least £150,000 for charity during the last decade. Sadly, it was put to a stop. Still, all the work, time and effort put in through the 10 years it did run has greatly helped charities and expanded beyond Newtown.