Christmas Hallmark movies aren’t a bad thing. They give you that warm, fuzzy feeling and sometimes they yield a fabulous tradition that thousands participate in every year. This is the case with the Ogden Santa Run. Race organizer Joseph Coles was watching a Hallmark movie several years ago when he saw a Santa running down the street and an idea was born. Coles had already helped organize other local races and thought it would be a great idea to have people run and dress like Santa to get them in the festive mood. It was a great idea.
The city of Ogden agreed too and the race has been going strong since 2008.
The Santa Run isn’t a typical runner’s race: instead of water, there’s milk and cookies along the parade route and, instead of an event T-shirt, organizers give out Santa clothes once registration is complete. The inaugural group got red long sleeved T-shirts but then Coles found beards and Santa suits and knew they had to be part of the race.
The cost was high, so he worked to get more racers involved to keep costs low.
Now every year hundreds participate in Ogden’s Santa Run traditionally held the Saturday after Thanksgiving as a precursor to the Light Parade and lighting of Christmas Village. In 2008 Coles had about 200 racers and this year he had about 1,000. The Ogden race has been so successful, his company, On Hill Events, added two more Santa Runs. “We have two additional Santa Runs, Provo at the Shops at Riverwoods on December 3 and West Jordan at Gardner Village on December 10, If they missed Ogden we would love to have them at one of these races,” Coles said.
Coles lives in Morgan and loves his local community. A graduate of Weber State University, Coles has always been in charge of planning big events and making them successful. He was the president of the Weber State University
Wildcat Club, president of his Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity and many other things. After college, he worked with the Davis County Convention Center and even after he left, he still did side work to help organize events. Coles organizes over 20 races per year, but the Ogden Santa Run is one he truly loves. He noted that in regular races you see the pain of the run, but the Santa race is joyful and happy.
Ogden resident Starla Stanley has seen the joy and happiness firsthand in her family. “Our family loves the Ogden Santa Run. It is our tradition for bringing in the Christmas season. We laugh getting ready as a family – dressing as Santa, Mrs. Claus, and elves. Our dogs even get in in the action,” Stanley said. The first year her daughter even won the contest for best costume dressed an elf.
Stanley really loves to see the people that go all out to dress up for the race. “It is a great activity for all ages and any level of fitness. We have walked, we have raced and we always eat the cookies along the way,” she said. They always stick around for the light parade and lighting of the Christmas Village. “We love Ogden and the people who make great things happen for families,” Stanley said. Coles does too. “The energy is always very high at the Ogden Santa Run,” Coles said. To sign up for the other Santa races this month, visit www.runsanta.com.