Father Christmas made an early visit to Merseyside yesterday (Sunday 2 December) as more than 8,000 runners took part in RunLiverpool's Santa Dash. The turnout means Liverpool may well retain their World Santa Challenge title from their festive foes in Las Vegas, but that the Mersey faithful will need to wait until 2013 to make another attempt on the Guinness world record.
Olympic gymnast Beth Tweddle officially started the race with a sea of red (and blue) Santas making their way from the Liver Building at 9:30am. Beth was joined by a host of other celebrities, including P Steve Rotherham, former Big Brother winner Nikki Graham and Atomic Kitten Liz McClarnon.
Liz, who was running the 5k with her dog Coco, said she was delighted to be a part of the festive event in her home city: "It's a fantastic event in Liverpool and I'm really proud to be a part of it. I have been doing lots to encourage people to join in with the Liverpool Santa Dash and raise lots of money for the six Text Santa charities. It's really important to us and I'm ecstatic to be doing this at home."
For the second year running, the Santa Dash partnered with ITV's Text Santa fundraising appeal, with Age UK, Anthony Nolan, Carers UK, Marie Curie Cancer Care, Together for Short Lives and Whizz-kidz the nominated charities. With an even stronger turnout than last year, organisers are hopeful they can top last year's fundraising total of £4 million.
Race organiser Alan Rothwell was amazed at the turnout, commenting: "Without a doubt this has been the biggest and best Santa Dash we've hosted. I'm waiting anxiously to hear the final numbers and I hope to be in a position to announce that we have beaten Vegas. Unfortunately we can't claim the Guinness World Record, this year but we'll be in a much stronger position to challenge in 2013. A big thank you to everyone who has taken part."
You can support Text Santa by visiting the ITV website.