Some might describe Santa as “plump.”
It’s true, there’s a bit of a spare tire there. And sure, his belly does shake like a bowl full of jelly (that’s what a few centuries worth of Christmas cookies will do). But delivering presents to a billion children around the world in a single night ain’t a task for the unfit. So Santa trains.
He benches bicycles. He curls gallon jugs of eggnog. He deadlifts dollhouses. And he runs.
You too can run like Santa this season, thanks to five Saint Nick-centered road races in southern Maine. Santa suits are encouraged. Nay, expected. Some of the races end with celebratory after parties, some offer prizes and all include a hefty dose of holiday spirit.
Here’s where and when to run:
7 a.m. (marathon start ) or 7:15 a.m. (5K start) Sunday, Nov. 23 | Starts and ends at The Maine Mall, South Portland | $50 for the 5K, $65 for the marathon | www.santahustle.com
Even if you’re not usually much of a runner, the cookie and candy stations along the course are excellent motivation. There will be festive music and holiday decorations to inspire your sprinting. Participants get a Dri-Fit Santa Hustle sweatshirt along with a Santa hat and beard. Proceeds benefit Easter Seals and Toys for Tots. Post-race party at Jimmy the Greek’s.
11:15 a.m. Sunday, Dec. 7 | Starts and ends at The Captain’s Galley Restaurant, 168 Saco Road, Old Orchard Beach | Race only: $15 in advance, $25 day of. Race and buffet: $25 in advance, $35 day of | www.running4free.com
Which Santa is the mystery Santa? You won’t know until the race is over, but if you run faster than the mystery Santa, you’ll get $10 off your registration fee. There will be best costume awards, too, so bring it. At the post-race party at Captain’s Galley, give thanks to Santa and enjoy a buffet of scallop and bacon wraps, pasta, Italian meatballs, mac ‘n’ cheese, buffalo wings and more.
10 a.m. Sunday, Dec. 7 | Starts at Mast Landing School, 20 Mollymauk St., Freeport | $30 in advance, $35 day of | freeportjbr.kintera.org
You’re welcome to go all-out Santa for the Jingle Bell Run/Walk. Or elf it up. Or wait – run as a yeti! No matter what your inspiration, you’re encouraged to wear a holiday themed costume and run to raise fund for the Arthritis Foundation.
10 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 13 | Starts and ends at Narragansett Point, Gooch’s Beach, Kennebunk | $25 adults, $15 for 12 and under | seasidesantadash.com
The first 200 registrants get a free Santa suit to run in, which means you won’t have to panic over where to get the right costume. Instead, use that effort to pick up a small gift to be placed under the tree at Narragansett Point. Those toys will then be donated to Toys for Tots. Runners will get to walk, run or sprint along the beaches and roads of the Kennebunks. After party TBD.
11 a.m. Sunday, Dec. 14 | Starts on the Eastern Promenade Trail between Ocean Gateway and the Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad, Portland | $30 | trails.org
A little snow doesn’t stop Santa. And it shouldn’t stop a runner dressed like Santa. Who knows what the weather will be like on December 14, but whatever happens (sleet, sub-zero temperatures) know that your participation in this race benefits two great organizations: Portland Trails and Toys for Tots. Also, you’ll get free brunch and a beverage at Ri Ra Irish Pub if you finish. Bonus.