Runners get jolly in Provo Santa Run

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One of the last things a person driving through the Provo River Bottoms would expect to see on a chilled December evening is Santa Claus running a 5K. Yet on Dec. 7, that’s exactly what drivers saw.

Hundreds of runners decked out in Santa’s signature coat, pants, hat and beard gathered at The Shops at Riverwoods for the annual Provo Santa Run.

Following the race, The Shops at Riverwoods turned on their Christmas lights display for runners and viewers to enjoy.

Spencer Hay, an avid runner and event participant, said it was hilarious to see runners donned in Santa costumes.

“It was fun to see who stripped their costumes off halfway through the race,” Hay said, adding that running in the costume made the race a lot hotter. “I wanted to keep mine on as long as possible in the spirit of the race.”

Josh and Amber Wilkerson said they aren’t avid runners but still enjoyed the event, as characterized by their smiles and sighs of relief as they crossed the finish line. Amber Wilkerson said she’s wanted to participate in the race for several years.

“I’m happy we finally got to do this race,” Amber Wilkerson said as she removed her faux beard. “We got to meet new friends and dress up and share the Christmas spirit with them.”

Waiting at the end of the finish line was BYU math education student Christian Dahneke, a race volunteer decked out in an elf costume, cheering on those who finally made it to the end of the 5K.

Dahneke said he wanted to volunteer for the event to meet his goal to provide service for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Light the World campaign.

“I wanted to volunteer to light the world, and I thought this race would be a cool opportunity to do that in a small and simple way,” he said.

Dahneke said the most impressive part of the race was its relaxed atmosphere and family-friendly environment.

“Before the event, we conducted ‘Santa stretches’ for the runners,” Dahneke said. “The overall environment here is really chill and even kids are participating, which is something you don’t see at a regular 5K.”

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