FATHER Christmas was everywhere yesterday as hoards of runners descended on Mowbray Park dressed as the man himself for the first ever Santa Run held in Sunderland.
The festive fun-runners took over the park as a sea of Santas and his little helpers ran, jogged and walked the 1.5 mile course, stopping to complete seasonal challenges along the way.
Second across the finishing line in the family run was eight-year-old Archie Fletcher, who took part along with sister Poppy, 10, and their 38-year-old dad Ian.
The family had travelled all the way from their home in Dunbar, Scotland, for the experience, which they hope to make an annual tradition.
Ian said: “We came for the football as well but this was the main event and the reason we picked this particular weekend to come to Sunderland. It’s been good fun really.”
“It was awesome,” Archie said. Poppy added: “I want to do it every year.”
Also taking part was the Hay family, from Sunderland. Joe,15, said: “It was really atmospheric and has really got me in the mood for Christmas.” His 10-year-old brother Jacob said: “It was really good. I enjoyed it. It was very Christmassy.”
Mum Sharon, 39, said: “It has just got us right in the Christmas spirit.”
Shirley Kirkbride, 47, from Chester-le-Street took part with her 10-year-old son Ben.
“It was amazing, super-duper fun,” Ben said.” Shirley said: “This was Ben’s first run, but he is going to start joining me for my charity runs.”
A second run for the sweet of tooth was held after the family event, with even more Santas turning up to take part in the aptly named Chocolate Run – with delicious treats hidden along the way.