Today was the one run a year where PBs and performance go out of the window, where looking cool in your running gear is forgotten about and instead you run around looking like a bit of a prat all in the name of charity!
This morning I took part in Saint Francis Hospice's annual Santa Run at Dagenham and Redbridge football ground the snappily named The London Borough of Barking and Dagenham Football Stadium.
The premise is quite simple; everyone meets up, gets dressed up in santa outfits and runs around the streets of Dagenham on a 5K route raising money for a local charity.
The atmosphere is incredibly friendly, positive and cheery and everyone takes part with the smile on their face with a hood friendly spirit whether running or walking, seasoned runner or slow paced walker.
Its a great event that unites the whole community, it is a great introduction to running and running events for many and it was great to see so many youngsters taking part with their parents. And although it might sound strange I sensed a greater sense of satisfaction amongst runners at the finish line than I do at marathons as many participants would have envisaged a 5K distance as unbelievable and are therefore rightly proud to successfully complete the course with finish times becoming irrelevant.
The main challenge of an event like this is struggling with the 'one size fits all' generic costume. With our ever increasingly over weight society one size fits all becomes more aimed towards the larger individuals and therefore becomes very troublesome for those of a smaller frame like me!
My wife did remark that I looked like a messy Santa as I didn't look particularly smart in my outfit as it was so grossly misfitting. Running in such an outfit was difficult to say the least, trying to stop the bottoms of your trousers coming down around your feet to trip you up, holding your waist band to stop your trousers slipping down (although I did have shorts on underneath!), then wrestling with your Santa jacket as it flailed in the air caused by running, there was also the itchy beard irritating your face and threatening to strangle your throat at any moment!
The event was made all the more special as I wasn't running it on my own and was joined at the event by my mother in law. Although she opted to complete the course at a more serene steady walking pace while I chose to run round in a pleasing time of just over 24 minutes it was nice to have someone to chat with at the start and cheer on at the finish.
Today's race forms a part of my bigger fundraising efforts of taking part in a 29 day runstreak which you can read about here. As well as raising funds for Saint Francis Hospice today I have been specifically raising money for Pancreatic Cancer UK and if you would like to donate please visit my Just Giving page here.