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These Santas run for milk and cookies

Published: Wednesday, Dec. 1 2010 3:46 p.m. MST

Nathan Worthington sips water at one of the aid stations available to the Santa-dressed runners in the 5K Santa Run staged Friday in Provo.  (Brian Nicholson, Deseret News) Nathan Worthington sips water at one of the aid stations available to the Santa-dressed runners in the 5K Santa Run staged Friday in Provo. (Brian Nicholson, Deseret News)

PROVO — Even though it didn't snow, the weather outside was indeed frightful in downtown Provo last Friday — a scary sub-20 degrees to be exact.

But that didn't seem to bother some 330 runners from showing up for a 5K race to kick off the holiday season.

It could have been the soothing Christmas music that brought them. Or maybe it was the need to burn off a few extra leftover-turkey sandwiches. However, most of them will tell you it was the chance to run with their family and friends in bright red Santa Claus suits. Unless your name is Garrett Tillman, a young runner from Saratoga Springs who "only came for the milk and cookies."

That's right, with each paid entry to the annual Santa Run, hosted by On Hill Events, the runner receives — instead of the often discarded T-shirt — a Santa suit, complete with pants, hat, belt and, yep, even a beard.

Runners dressed like Santa create a red and white blur at starting line. (Brian Nicholson, Deseret News) Runners dressed like Santa create a red and white blur at starting line. (Brian Nicholson, Deseret News)

And as a bonus, instead of the hydrating goodness of Gatorade, runners were treated at aid stations with cookies, milk and candy canes — oh, and water, too, if needed — which were appropriately doled out by volunteers dressed as Santa's helpers.

According to race organizer and founder Joe Coles, the sport of recreational running is growing rapidly. And themed runs, where costumes are encouraged — like the Santa Run, Wasatch Back Relay and the Dirty Dash — are no exception.

"I do 11 races a year, and since I love Christmas, I thought this would be a fun take," says Coles. "For some, it's their only 5K of the year."

That's certainly true for the Davis and Tillman families, who participated for the fun of it. Only the wives, Elena Tillman and Amy Davis, consider themselves runners. The remaining family members just came out for the experience. It was Elena's son Ben Tillman's first 5K, and he signed up so he could dress like Santa.

Appropriately dressed Brodin Parkin waits for the start of the 5K Santa Run in Provo. (Brian Nicholson, Deseret News) Appropriately dressed Brodin Parkin waits for the start of the 5K Santa Run in Provo. (Brian Nicholson, Deseret News)

Tim Pickett and his sister Lexie, from Austin, Texas, came to spend time with each other after being away from family for the holiday.

However, Lexie admits, "I might not have run if not for the (Santa) suit."

Finishing in third place overall was Bryan Hardy, a BYU student from Albuquerque, N.M., who brought his whole family to the race.

"It was such a silly idea, we thought it would be fun," he said. "I just ran it for the comedic aspect of running in a Santa suit."

Hardy's sister Erin, who runs cross country in high school, thought it was a pretty bad race, as far as her running time went. For her, it was mostly about the fun.

The following night, a similar race was held in Ogden, just prior to the lighting of Christmas Village and the Santa Claus parade. This year, the number of running Santas doubled from the year before, up to about 700.

Runners from the Davis and Tillman families get ready for the 5K Santa Run.  (Brian Nicholson, Deseret News) Runners from the Davis and Tillman families get ready for the 5K Santa Run. (Brian Nicholson, Deseret News)

"People love it," said Carolyn Brierley, Ogden's community and events coordinator. "It's a great crowd-pleaser because people love to dress up in costume."

Ogden's race included eggnog at the finish line, a very suitable recovery drink, and had a runner dressed as The Grinch, complete with furry green legs and face.

Stephanie Taylor, who had never before run a 5K, signed up to run after hearing her friend talk about it.

"It was a lot of fun," she said, adding that the only trouble she had was getting the complimentary white beard to stay on. "After having so much fun running this one, I think I'll do more."

Whatever the motivation, runners who are in it to win it, out to dress up with friends, or simply there for the milk and cookies, the Santa Run is a great way to kick off the holiday season — in Christmas style and elfish fashion.

Jake Seethaler and his Jake Seethaler and his "Santa sled" — complete with a couple of flying reindeer — cruise past an aid station during the annual 5K Santa Run staged last Friday in Provo. (Brian Nicholson, Deseret News)

e-mail: bnicholson@desnews.com

By Brian Nicholson

Deseret News

PROVO — Even though it didn't snow, the weather outside was indeed frightful in downtown Provo last Friday — a scary sub-20 degrees to be exact.

But that didn't seem to bother some 330 runners from showing up for a 5K race to kick off the holiday season.

It could have been the soothing Christmas music that brought them. Or maybe it was the need to burn off a few extra leftover-turkey sandwiches. However, most of them will tell you it was the chance to run with their family and friends in bright red Santa Claus suits. Unless your name is Garrett Tillman, a young runner from Saratoga Springs who "only came for the milk and cookies."

That's right, with each paid entry to the annual Santa Run, hosted by On Hill Events, the runner receives — instead of the often discarded T-shirt — a Santa suit, complete with pants, hat, belt and, yep, even a beard.

This well-hydrated This well-hydrated "Santa Claus," Alex Stayner, steps out of the port-a-potty prior to the start of last Friday's 5K Santa Run, which drew some 330 runners. (Brian Nicholson, Deseret News)

And as a bonus, instead of the hydrating goodness of Gatorade, runners were treated at aid stations with cookies, milk and candy canes — oh, and water, too, if needed — which were appropriately doled out by volunteers dressed as Santa's helpers.

According to race organizer and founder Joe Coles, the sport of recreational running is growing rapidly. And themed runs, where costumes are encouraged — like the Santa Run, Wasatch Back Relay and the Dirty Dash — are no exception.

"I do 11 races a year, and since I love Christmas, I thought this would be a fun take," says Coles. "For some, it's their only 5K of the year."

That's certainly true for the Davis and Tillman families, who participated for the fun of it. Only the wives, Elena Tillman and Amy Davis, consider themselves runners. The remaining family members just came out for the experience. It was Elena's son Ben Tillman's first 5K, and he signed up so he could dress like Santa.

Tim Pickett and his sister Lexie, from Austin, Texas, came to spend time with each other after being away from family for the holiday.

However, Lexie admits, "I might not have run if not for the (Santa) suit."

Finishing in third place overall was Bryan Hardy, a BYU student from Albuquerque, N.M., who brought his whole family to the race.

"It was such a silly idea, we thought it would be fun," he said. "I just ran it for the comedic aspect of running in a Santa suit."

Hardy's sister Erin, who runs cross country in high school, thought it was a pretty bad race, as far as her running time went. For her, it was mostly about the fun.

The following night, a similar race was held in Ogden, just prior to the lighting of Christmas Village and the Santa Claus parade. This year, the number of running Santas doubled from the year before, up to about 700.

"People love it," said Carolyn Brierley, Ogden's community and events coordinator. "It's a great crowd-pleaser because people love to dress up in costume."

Ogden's race included eggnog at the finish line, a very suitable recovery drink, and had a runner dressed as The Grinch, complete with furry green legs and face.

Stephanie Taylor, who had never before run a 5K, signed up to run after hearing her friend talk about it.

"It was a lot of fun," she said, adding that the only trouble she had was getting the complimentary white beard to stay on. "After having so much fun running this one, I think I'll do more."

Whatever the motivation, runners who are in it to win it, out to dress up with friends, or simply there for the milk and cookies, the Santa Run is a great way to kick off the holiday season — in Christmas style and elfish fashion.

e-mail: bnicholson@desnews.com

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