Cardiff Santa Dash: Hundreds of Santas run to raise money for charity

People dressed as Santas, elves, turkeys and Christmas trees took part in the annual run to raise funds for a heart charity.

This was the 12th year of the Santa Dash, with fundraising coming from ticket sales. Photo by Richard Williams

Hundreds of Father Christmases braved the rain to run across Cardiff Bay this weekend to raise money for a heart charity.

Runners of all ages dressed up in festive costumes from elves to turkeys to raise over £8000 for the Welsh heart charity, Calon Hearts.

“Ten thousand cardiac arrests happen outside hospitals in Wales,” said Sharon Owen, the charity’s fundraising director. “The survival rate is only 3%. When the defibrillators are applied, that increases to 70%. So, we have to keep doing what we do to raise funds throughout the country and hold more events.”

The money raised will allow the charity to fund heart screenings and defibrillators across Wales and some runners had a personal motivation for taking part.

Gail Newell, 51, ran in memory of her husband. “My husband passed away of a heart attack 12 years ago on Christmas. The charity is close to my heart,” she said. “I tend to participate in any heart charity activities.” She was accompanied by her dog, Daisy, during the run.

“The rainy weather doesn’t really bother me. The skin is waterproof,” said Gail Newell.

Sudden cardiac death is an under-recognised health problem in the UK. At least 12 seemingly healthy young people die every week from heart conditions they did not even know they had, according to Calon Hearts.

Former Newport County AFC captain Mark O’Brien, 31, who was one of the three persons to blow the starting whistle, emphasized the importance of heart screenings.

He first became aware of his heart condition at 16, when a routine scan revealed a heart valve problem. “I was quite lucky at 16. I did get an opportunity to pick up that defect. I had open heart surgery when I was 16, but it saved my life,” he said. “Without the routine heart scan, I would have never known about it because I didn’t develop any symptoms.”

People in various Christmas costumes took part in the 5k challenge for a great cause. Photo by Richard Williams

People of all ages took part in the race, with kids on scooters, babies in prams, and even dogs in Christmas outfits. Even though it was a rainy day, the atmosphere was brilliant.

The Santa Dash was not only a charity fundraiser but also a Christmas event. “I would like to spread a bit of Christmas cheer and raise money for the charity,” said Sarah Miller, who dressed up as an elf in a “Santa holding me” design inflatable suit.

The 5k run did not seem too challenging for most participants. “We do 5ks every weekend. We thought it would be a nice family activity,” said Richard Batten, 47, who ran with his wife, son, daughter, son-in-law and two grandsons.

Mark said the Santa Dash event was meaningful. “The more awareness, the better. Certain events like this raise awareness for heart screening. It might put that idea in somebody’s mind to go get checked,” he said. “And I find out there are so many people that are supporting it. It’s amazing for the charity. It’s a really big thing.”

Amy Lewis, 22, took part in the Santa Dash with her mum to get festive.