The BTR Liverpool Santa Dash recently transformed the city into a sea of red, blue, and mini Santas (Sunday 4 December) – and organisers BTR Liverpool hailed it as one of the best yet, with 5,500 people taking part in this year’s event.
The Santa Dash is the UK’s largest festive 5K fun run and the official start to Christmas for many Santas.
Santas crossed the start line at Pier Head Liverpool before making their way round the city centre, taking in the sights of The Strand, Grade I Listed Royal Albert Dock Liverpool, and the business district.
Katumba Drumming Band spurred Santas on along Dale Street to the grandstand finish line at Liverpool Town Hall, where they were greeted by stilt-walking festive characters and ‘real’ snow.
The main event was followed by the 1K Mini Dash for youngsters aged 12 and under. They set off from Castle Street, following a similar but shorter route, before also finishing in Dale Street.
The BTR Liverpool Santa Dash 2022 was sponsored by Park Christmas Savings, part of Liverpool-based Appreciate Group; official event charity Alder Hey Children’s Charity Surgical Neonatal Appeal; and official media partner In Demand Radio. All returning as event partners for a second consecutive year.
Plans are already underway for the milestone 20th staging of the event on Sunday 3 December 2023. Entries are already open.
Santas have been signing up and collecting their festive attire from the pop-up shop at St Johns Shopping Centre in Liverpool city centre, which was open seven days a week for five weeks.
The Santa Dash was officially started by a group of special guests including eight-month-old Alder Hey patient Frankie and Mum Jess from Wirral. Frankie is also part of this year’s Alder Hey Christmas pyjama campaign.
Frankie was born in March 2022 at Wirral’s Arrowe Park Hospital. Prior to birth he was diagnosed with gastroschisis and would need an operation within hours of birth. Gastroschisis is a rare condition affecting only one in 3,000 babies, and means the bowels are on the outside of the stomach.
The operation could only be done in a specialised children’s hospital with full paediatric surgery facilities – so Frankie had to be separated from Mum Jess and was transferred to Alder Hey. The operation went well and they were reunited the next day. Frankie continues to recover and has exceeded all expectations.
Frankie and Jess were joined by Everton Football Club legend Duncan Ferguson; Liverpool’s very own Craig Phillips who won the first series of TV reality show Big Brother; and regular charity runner ‘fancy dress Jess’ Miss England Jessica Gagen. Craig and Jess both also took part following their appearances on stage.
Alder Hey mascot Oli the elephant; and Park Christmas Savings’ Earl E. Bird – the turkey who stars in Parks’ latest TV advert campaign encouraging people to start saving for Christmas 2023 – both helped Santas to warm-up on the start line and joined in all the fun.
Frankie’s Mum Jess commented:
“I couldn’t be more grateful for every single staff member at Alder Hey. We were thrilled to be part of this year’s BTR Liverpool Santa Dash – cheering on the Santas while raising the profile of the new appeal. The new unit will make a huge difference to so many people.”
Santas fundraising for Alder Hey Children’s Charity Surgical Neonatal Appeal have already raised £11,000 through this year’s event – online donations can still be made at https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/santadashah2022
Guests also included four-year-old Alder Hey fundraiser Riley from Wirral, Mum Hannah, and Dad Conor. The youngster cycled five miles raising £400, and the family were part of this year’s Santa Dash launch aboard the Mersey Ferry. Riley appeared on stage, and later took part in the 1K Mini Dash.
The start and finish lines were hosted by BTR run host Graeme White, who was joined by In Demand Radio presenters Lee Butler and Josef Hollywood.
Support on the day also came from Royal Albert Dock Liverpool, which is now part of the 5K course since the demolition of the Churchill Flyover.
Arriva North West – supporting the event for the fifth time – offered free travel across the Merseyside bus network into the city centre for Santas dressed in full attire on the morning. And also post event travel for those displaying their medal afterwards when travelling home.
Volunteers teams on the day were from 4 Coy Merseyside Army Cadet Force; Everton in the Community; and Hoylake Road Runners.
The BTR Liverpool Santa Dash is accessible and open to everyone, from those taking part purely for fun to groups of fundraisers. The event acts as a platform for community groups, businesses, and charities to fundraise independently while taking part – in addition to the official charity partner.
Each year the event attracts Santas who walk, jog or run, alongside wheelchair participants, families, groups of friends, and colleagues. And not forgetting baby Santas in prams and even four-legged furry Santas.
Liverpool Santa Dash was created by BTR Liverpool Race Director Alan Rothwell and was first staged in 2004. The 1K Mini Dash for youngsters aged 12 and under was added in 2007, blue Santa suits were introduced in 2010.
It has continued each year including a virtual format in 2020 during the Covid-19 pandemic when mass participation events were not permitted. This ensured participants could still get their Santa Dash fix wherever they were located – with everyone still receiving a medal to mark their achievement.
The festive spectacular celebrates its 20th milestone in 2023 – making it one of the longest established highlights in the Liverpool event calendar. And plans are already underway to make it the best yet.
BTR Race Director Alan Rothwell explained:
“What an incredible day. The Liverpool Santa Dash never fails to make people smile. Red or blue; young or old; babies in decorated prams; dressed up dogs – we even had Elf, The Grinch, Krampus, festive dinosaurs, and The Village People. It’s Santa Dash Day – anything goes!
“On behalf of the BTR team, we’d like to say a 5,500-strong thank you to every Santa who took part, our supportive sponsors and partners, and fantastic volunteers. It’s very special for everyone involved. We feel it was one of the best yet, the atmosphere was electric.
“From a wild idea in 2004, the Liverpool Santa Dash has grown into a must-do event to experience first-hand. Plans are already underway for next year’s 20thmilestone BTR Liverpool Santa Dash on 3 December. Entries are open and we’re counting down the days – see you there.”
Park Christmas Savings has been the UK’s most popular and trusted festive savings company for over 50 years, having helped over three million families budget for a happy, stress-free Christmas.
Director of Marketing Katherine Scott commented:
“Park Christmas Savings is incredibly proud to support the BTR Liverpool Santa Dash 2022. More than 50 years ago we started in Merseyside – and after all that time we’re still here. Today, we’re a national company, helping more than three million families save for Christmas over the years.
“This year’s event is supporting the amazing Alder Hey Children’s Charity. We see the vital work they do to support children and families, and seeing so many early birds turning out to raise money for the charity is just fantastic – our turkey mascot also had plenty of fun dashing with Santas on the day.”
Alder Hey Children’s Charity is raising funds towards the specialist hospital’s new £3million Surgical Neonatal Appeal to help develop a state-of-the-art unit for newborn babies and their families. The unique unit will be the first of its kind in the UK.
The unit is a joint project between Alder Hey and Liverpool Women’s NHS Foundation Trust as the Liverpool Neonatal Partnership. It will offer 22 neonatal cots, including 18 individual family rooms where parents can remain alongside their poorly newborn 24 hours a day, whilst their baby receives expert care.
The Santa Dash entry fee covers all costs to organise and deliver the event including road closures, safety measures, Santa suits, medals, goody bags, and entertainment.
Entries for the 20th BTR Liverpool Santa Dash are open for full details click here.
Photo credit: Paul Francis Cooper