Santa Clauses com­ing to town for Texas race

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD - By XIN­HUA in GALVE­STON, United States

Ever seen San­tas run­ning on the beaches of the Gulf of Mex­ico? Come to this coastal city, where thou­sands of run­ners dressed as San­tas hit the streets on Sun­day to cel­e­brate the fast-ap­proach­ing Christ­mas hol­i­day.

With more than 3,000 San­tas from across the coun­try, the “Santa Hus­tle Race” also drew par­tic­i­pants all the way from South Africa and Bri­tain.

Flanked by run- down Span­ish- style apartments, Galve­ston’s di­lap­i­dated “Old City Square” was lit­er­ally a sea of red, with most of the crowd wear­ing red shirts, red hats and white beards.

Some boasted gaudy cos­tumes; some were top­less to show their mus­cles; and some brought pet dogs dressed in Santa cos­tumes.

San­tas of all col­ors and races gath­ered at the start­ing line in the square, try­ing to el­bow their way to the front. Tod­dlers in their baby bug­gies looked at the crowds cu­ri­ously, and grannies ban­tered with old ac­quain­tances.

The event was di­vided into a half- marathon ( 21.1 km) and a 5-km race. Half a dozen rounds of run­ners took part in the 5k race, run­ning or walk­ing their way through the city cen­ter.

Another 1,000 run­ners ran the half-marathon along the sullen, wavy sea. The air off the beach, cold and damp, reeked slightly of rot­ting fish and sea­weed.

Mark Her­rman, 36 from Maryland, said while jog­ging that he was happy to be here. “I love run­ning. I love the sea. I en­joy my time here. Merry Christ­mas!”

On a de­serted beach far from the marathon line, a cou­ple sur­named Wil­liams gave up their race and picked seashells with their daugh­ter. “It doesn’t mat­ter. We are here just for fun,” the fa­ther said.

How­ever, 28- year- old Sean, from the Texas cap­i­tal of Austin, was more keen on the race.

“My re­sult is 24 min­utes and 2 sec­onds,” he breath­lessly told Xin­hua at the fin­ish line of the 5k race.

“I feel happy that I fin­ished it with­out pass­ing out. It is a re­ally good run. I will be back,” he said.

His girl­friend, Ann, who ran faster than him, also en­joyed the race.

“I love the event. It’s the per­fect dis­tance,” she said.

It was the cou­ple’s first time in the race.

Or­ga­nized by Adren­a­line Sports Man­age­ment of Illi­nois, the one-day event is also staged in five other US cities, in­clud­ing Chicago, Illi­nois; and In­di­anapo­lis, In­di­ana.

With out­ra­geous hol­i­day dec­o­ra­tions, fes­tive mu­sic, and a large af­ter- party that fea­tures a buf­fet of food and drink, the event has won many hearts since its de­but last year.

Stand­ing in front of a huge bal­loon Santa Claus, vol­un­teer Kather­ine Manning ex­plained why so many are fond of the race.

“It’s com­pet­i­tive but it’s also re­lax­ing. Ev­ery­one in town shows up. And you talk with peo­ple. You have fun. That’s Christ­mas, isn’t it?”

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