Santas Race Towards Christmas at Festive Fun Run

Santa came to Henley early on Sunday morning with the return of the ‘Santa on the Run’ fun run. The 4k race, which looped around the fields by Leander Club, saw over 100 Santa-hatted runners don their best festive attire in aid of the Mayor’s charities. The event raised over £600 for Greener Henley, Henley Schools and Covid Catch Up.

The course began outside Leander Club, with runners completing one or two laps of the Henley Royal Regatta enclosures before being greeted on the line with mince pies and hot chocolate. Prizes were handed out to the Best Dressed Family, Best Dressed Couple, Best Dressed Under 10, and a ‘Special Consideration Prize’ (which went to a man in an inflatable Santa suit!). There were also books and sweet treats given out to the young competitors.

The Locke family – mum Rosie, dad Richard, and children Dorothy, Juno and Jasper – won Best Dressed Family. Rosie said, “We did it last year for the first time. This was better. The run was equally good – it is definitely firmly becoming one of our Christmas traditions – but she [Juno] was in the buggy last year and I carried him [Jasper] the whole way, so it felt a lot less hard this year. And Dorothy did the whole two laps this year.”

The family’s outfits were decided on the morning of the event. Dorothy said about the win, “It’s a surprise. I thought I’d wear this dress yesterday but the rest of the clothes I didn’t think I’d wear.”

Best Dressed Under 10 went to Zeb Grange, also known as ‘Reindeer Dasher’ for his adorable reindeer costume. Mum Gemma said, “We’ve had the costume from nativities. I’ve got three boys and he’s the youngest, so it was just in the cupboard. He decided this morning that he wanted to be a reindeer, so here he is.”

Mark and Karen Errington, who were racing the event for the first time, won Best Dressed Couple. Karen said about the course, “It was great. It was really nice that it was two loops so you felt it was a little bit easier than going out too far. It was good. It was quite a fast course and it was fun.”

Mark added, “We’re ecstatic. Unbelievable. It’s made our Christmas. Best thing ever. It’s great to support a local event. The kids were doing well and were pretty speedy as well. We couldn’t catch them up. I was going too slow and they were too quick. It was excellent. We’ll definitely do it again next year.”

The race was sponsored by Rupert House School, who provided every competitor with a Santa hat. Mayor Michelle Thomas said, “I can’t tell you how thankful I am to all of the volunteers and supporters, to Rupert House and Leander club, to all of the individual volunteers who have come. I can’t believe how many people turned up in a best dressed outfit. I thought people would just wear a hat or something, but everyone has embraced the Santa look. They’ve gone full Santa, and all the kids have dressed up as well which has been lovely to see.”

Councillor David Eggleton dressed as Santa sponsored the bottled water and gave out sweets to the children.

Councillor Sarah Miller was responsible for organising the event. She commented afterwards, “Although bitterly cold and icy I was delighted with the 150 or so people who took part in this year’s Santa Fun Run and helped to raise over £600 for the Mayor’s charities. The costumes were wonderful, especially the children who all managed to run the course, some even twice around.  This event could not have taken place without the support of the Leander Club, HRR, Tesco and Rupert House School. I would also like to personally thank the Rotary Club for helping with the Marshalling and Cllr. Laurence Plant, Cllr. Dave Eggleton, Cllr. Stefan Gawrysiak, Cllr. Kellie Hinton, Cllr. Donna Crooke and Laura Reineke who helped me with this wonderful Festive annual event. My chilblains are still pulsating, but my fingers have thawed and I’m ready for Christmas. Merry Christmas to you all.”