What better way for Santa to burn off some of those extra holiday calories than to run a 5K race?
And, what's good for one Santa is good for hundreds of Santas, right?
Already, more than 350 participants have registered for the first-ever Santa Run/ Walk for Kids slated for 9 a.m. Sunday, Dec. 2, in Crystal Lake. Organizers are expecting more than 500 runners.
The Kiwanis Club of Crystal Lake is hosting the 5K run/walk, during which runners will don Santa suits, pants, hats, belts and beards and make their merry way through downtown Crystal Lake. Children will receive a pair of reindeer antlers to wear for the event.
Interest is so ho-ho-ho high in the Santa Run/Walk, organizers have already ordered an additional 150 Santa suits, said race coordinator Mike Splitt. Splitt and members of the Kiwanis conceived the idea for the 5K last year.
"We were trying to come up with ways to raise money to help children," Splitt said. "We talked about having a spaghetti dinner, golf outing, fundraisers like that, but we've done all those."
A few years ago, Splitt caught footage of Santa runs held in Chicago, London and Las Vegas. As a runner, he immediately liked the concept. For the past 15 years, Splitt has served on the committee for the Bob Blazier Run for the Arts, held in May and benefitting the Raue Center for the Arts, 26 N. Williams St.
"We talked to the Raue people, and asked if we could use their building for the (Santa) day and they said yes," Splitt said. "Then we decided to hold the same race route as the Bob Blazier run to keep things easy. We talked to the city hall to get approval to close the streets, and we were set."
The Santa Run/Walk will starts in front of the Raue Center, where a new 20-foot-tall inflatable Santa Clause will greet runners and walkers. Several area businesses and hospitals have donated goodie bags for the participants, Splitt said.
The event benefits organizations assisting children throughout McHenry County including Big Brothers, Big Sisters, Girls on the Run NWIL, CASA, The Light Center/ Main Stay and Turning Point.
Registration fee for the 5K Santa Run/ Walk is $35; admission for the 1-mile Reindeer Dash is $15.
Participants can register for the Santa Run/ Walk online at: www.kiwanissantarunforkids.org.
More information is available on the Kiwanis Santa Run/ Walk Facebook page.