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Ho, ho … huff, at the Sweaty Santa Run

By Kirsten LeRoux
Special to The SUN

Photo courtesy Stewart Bellina Santa and his elves greet a runner crossing the finish line at GECKO’s Sweaty Santa Run, held Saturday in downtown Pagosa Springs. The organization intends to make the run an annual event.

Photo courtesy Stewart Bellina
Santa and his elves greet a runner crossing the finish line at GECKO’s Sweaty Santa Run, held Saturday in downtown Pagosa Springs. The organization intends to make the run an annual event.

There was lots of Christmas Cheer on Saturday morning as a group of runners, joggers and walkers and quite a few dogs set off in the brisk sunny morning along the river in Pagosa’s first Sweaty Santa Run.

Registration in the lobby of the Ross Aragon Community Center was amidst the beautiful, trimmed trees of the Festival of Trees, held the night before.

Race director Mike Le Roux said at the race briefing that his wife, Kirsten, and he had brought the idea of a Sweaty Santa run from far northern Australia, where it’s usually run at this time of year in temps of around 100 degrees, and wearing a Santa suit could get you heat rash.

Although this was a fun, non-competitive event, it was unofficially noted that father and son Scott and Keanan Anderson were formidable in the 5k and 3k, respectively. Best Dressed Trio was won by three friends in Elf costumes — Maddy Stewart, Candace Wolf and Kat Green.

Everyone finished and all were awarded a famous adobe GECKO Christmas “ornament” medal, in the shape of a Christmas stocking (made by Tessie Garcia and the Pagosa Springs Elementary school art class), along with a candy cane. Then they could toast their finish with hot chocolate and marshmallows and a finisher photo with Santa Claus.

Le Roux commented after the event that it was exactly what GECKO had hoped for. “Friends, families and staff groups came together, dressed in fun Christmas garb,  ready to tackle the distance at their own pace. It was very festive with Christmas carols playing and Santa Claus at the tinsel finish line. We have already spoken with the RACC and we’re going to make this an annual event following the Festival of Trees. All we need next year are a few more folk to come and participate.”

This story was posted on December 12, 2013.