Gord Kurenoff: There was no rain dear, just 400 shuffling Santas for Burn Fund cause – Vancouver Sun

Gord Kurenoff: There was no rain dear, just 400 shuffling Santas for Burn Fund cause  Vancouver Sun

OPINION: If you were one of the 400 who suited up, count yourself lucky to be a good Claus for the cause and part of something new that will grow faster than you can say Ho, Ho, Ho!

Stanley Park was a sea of red Saturday morning as the inaugural five-kilometre Santa Run — in support of the B.C. Professional Fire Fighters’ Burn Fund — attracted more than 400 jolly runners. The event made for wonderful pictures and visuals. Gord Kurenoff / Postmedia News

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The first time I met Cindy Roberts she was one broom short of being a complete witch. On Saturday at the inaugural Santa Run in Stanley Park she had ditched the hat and costume from last year’s Hallow’s Eve trail run on the North Shore, but was still working her race-day magic.

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Joking with the early morning set-up crew by the Bright Nights in Stanley Park display that she was making a list of naughty or nice volunteers, the affable race director stopped long enough to say: “Isn’t this an amazing event and turnout?”

Yes and yes.



I had the pleasure this year of participating in some new runs — the Vancouver Butterfly Run, Rainforest Trail Run — and in some fun lesser-knowns — Paavo Nurmi Run at Burnaby Lake, Great Pumpkin 5K in White Rock — and made my debut in memorable ones — Ultra Night Run at Stanley Park and 5-Mile Italy Run in New York’s Central Park. But the Santa Run, the brainchild of B.C. Professional Fire Fighters’ Burn Fund communications director Nicole Clarke, was extra special.

Much like the Campbell Valley Wine Run in Langley, St. Patrick’s Day 5K at Stanley Park, Moustache Miler, Ultra Night Run and Big Easter and Elf Runs, the Santa Run had an infectious vibe. If you were one of the 400 who suited up, count yourself lucky to be a good Claus for the cause and part of something new that will grow faster than you can say Ho, Ho, Ho!

It was a chilly 1C on Saturday, but as I joked to a lovely lady in the “Claustrophobic” starting gate: “At least there is no rain, dear!” Yep, your scribe was “sleighing” the Santa puns, sharing old and bad ones with the shocked runners who weren’t “Blitzen” by me. Most, by the 1K mark, were wishing for Silent Nights but we digress.

Gord Kurenoff of The Vancouver Sun/Province, left, poses with Team FOMO before Saturday’s Santa Run in Stanley Park.

Teams raised more than $16,000 in pledges for the Burn Fund’s quality programs. Burn survivor Keira McKenzie, 11, and her Chilly Squad team took part in the 5K. Keira has raised more than $10,000 to date and inspired more than $17,000 at the annual Responder Dinner, according to Clark. Keira’s fun team raised $5,105.12 for Saturday’s event and took home the New Balance prize for doing so.

“Burn Camp (in Squamish) is a cause that’s really important to us,” said Keira. “Camp is a great opportunity to spend a week with other kids who have been through the same experience.”

Top individual fundraiser was Sandra Louie who turned over $1,500 and she was part of the team Powered by FOMO that insisted we huddle r a pre-race selfie. We did and one team member said the picture quickly “broke the Internet,” adding seconds later, “or maybe it’s just that my WiFi is broken right now!”

All proceeds from the race support the Burn Fund’s child programs, like Burn Camp, which has hosted more than 1,000 burn survivors over the last 26 years.

Stanley Park was a sea of red as the inaugural 5K and 1K Santa Run — in support of the B.C. Professional Fire Fighters’ Burn Fund — attracted 400-plus jolly runners. (Gord Kurenoff photo)

The winner of Saturday’s 5K was 16-year-old Micah Logie of Surrey’s Coastal Track Club, who crushed the field in 19:17. He was 70 seconds ahead of runner-up Dmitry Babenko of Burnaby. Carey Nelson of Vancouver was third in 22:14. The top woman was Kelsey Lepard of Delta in 22:30, 18 seconds ahead of Tania Tasaka of North Vancouver.

Justin Kent, the classy winner of the 2019 Vancouver Sun Run and son of a firefighter, launched the 5K run, while Carey Nelson, head coach and co-owner of Forerunners Main Street, opened the 1K kids’ run.

Here are a few other “up Claus and personal” notes from Saturday:

Beatle-mania hit Stanley Park on Saturday as this Fab Four did their own version of Abbey Road. (Gord Kurenoff photo)

Hey Jude, hold my beer!

The Beatles are famous for a lot of things, but one album cover really grew legs, so to speak.

Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr and John Lennon simply walked into a crosswalk outside their recording studio and, boom, the infamous Abbey Road album cover was born and another chapter added to the Fab Four lore.

So on Saturday, to stay warm and loose before the Santa Run, four runners did their best historical reenactment and, in Santa terms, they “sleighed it!”

Santa John was a hit as an event greeter Saturday, and he did a great job helping out as a model for the new seasonal CLIF Bar, Peppermint Bark! (Gord Kurenoff photo)

Hark the Bark in Stanley Park

He has announced a number of the Foretrails Run Series events on the picturesque North Shore, including The Phantom Run and Hallow’s Eve, and he’s freelanced a few times as a party Santa, but when the BUrn Fund put out a call for volunteers “Santa John” figured he had to be a part of something new and fun.

So he put on the awesome red suit, grabbed a bell and played greeter Saturday. He was a big hit.

He also helped show off the new winter CLIF Bar, Peppermint Bark! According to the company, which supplied me with red socks, red bandana, red water bottle and Peppermint Bark for the inaugural Santa Run, the new bar is packed with organic and non-GMO ingredients, 23 vitamins and minerals and contains Canadian organic rolled oats.

As well, CLIF Bar is contributing a portion of sales from its season flavours to Protect Our Winters, a leading climate advocacy organization dedicated to engaging and mobilizing the winter sports community to lead the fight against climate change and protect the places we play.

A photographer listed as @denis68 on Instagram sent 300 photos to iPOLPO’s Katia Reinhardt on Saturday as the Fort Langley-based firm continues to build its running connections.

Picture this, camera buffs love running

Katia Reinhardt of Fort Langley can be found at most races in the Lower Mainland with a camera. Which is ironic, in that the former fashion model used to be on the other side of the lens.

Her iPOLPO photo-market app has become a go-to for runners who want to remember a race, or moment, and her stable of talented photographers continues to grow by the month.

Last week she took some superb shots of The Moustache Miler and this week a shooter listed as @denis68 on Instragram forwarded her 300 Santa Run photos. While Reinhardt downplays her natural running ability — she can do a sub-60 10K — she loves the race-day vibes and watching people crush goals.

“The Santa Run looks like so much fun, and the fact everyone is wearing the same outfit makes for some amazing visuals,” said Reinhardt, who also cycles and sails a ton these days.

Debra Kato showed up Saturday to show her support for the inaugural Santa Run, plus take a few pictures and catch up on the latest news and gossip. She was hard to miss. (Gord Kurenoff photo)

More wild fashion from her Claus-et

There were a few “wardrobe malfunctions” as some runners lost their Santa pants, belts and beards during the seawall run. One person who can relate to fashion nightmares is race regular Debra Kato, who showed up in costume Saturday not to run, but to support and photograph the inaugural event. Trust me, she was difficult to miss!

Justin Kent, 2019 Sun Run winner still has eyes on 2020 Olympics. (Debra Kato photo)

“Props and costumes are tough. They look great but don’t always work as planned,” laughed Kato, who lost her cowgirl hat at least a dozen times during last weekend’s Movember Mo Miler, an event that went with a cowpoke Western theme to raise funds and awareness for men’s mental and physical health.

My Santa pants actually ripped by the Brockton Point Lighthouse and was worried I’d jingle all the way to the finish! Fortunately I had running tights on underneath so there were no Flash Gordon sightings! I also lost a candy cane and some change, leaving me feeling like Saint Nickel-less.

Kato, who will be starting her Run Rudolph Run program today (watch for her great workout costumes on social media), wanted people to know that Justin Kent is in charge of Mile2Marathon Burnaby where he wants to build a more inclusive group, and still has hopes to qualify for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. Kent won the 2019 Sun Run in 29:30, outlasting Calgary’s Trevor Hofbauer in a wild sprint finish.

Kent’s longtime girlfriend, Lindsey Butterworth, is a shoo-in for the Olympic team as an 800-metre specialist. She was top 10 at the recent worlds track meet.

You can check out Kato’s great photos from Saturday by clicking HERE.

Fun on the Run blogger Gord Kurenoff will trade his Santa suit for an elf costume when he takes part in the fifth annual Big Elf Run on Saturday, Dec. 14 at Stanley Park. (Debra Kato photo)

Cowboy, Joker, Santa then Elf

Since returning home a few weeks ago from a Vietnam vacation, your scribe has run as a cowboy (Moustache Miler), joker (Vancouver Historic Half) and Santa, not bad for someone who promised the pennywise wife that my costume days are mostly over.

Next up for yours truly is the fifth annual Big Elf Run at Stanley Park on Saturday, Dec. 14, where dressing up is part of the fun and my streak will continue! (Proud to say my wife actually got a wild costume for that event. I just knew it would rub off eventually!)

The Big Elf Run features a 15K, 10K, 5K and 1K Wee Elf Run, plus the finisher’s medal this year is Christmas-tree worthy! Big Elf Baxter Bayer and his Running Tours Inc. crew always stage epic events. If you loved the Santa Run — and who didn’t? — you should sign up for the Big Elf Run, too. This year’s charity is the Lower Mainland Christmas Bureau and there will be a Big Toy Drive at the run.

I’m also doing the PEN RUN Resolution Race on New Year’s Day in Surrey’s Crescent Park, then moving on to Steveston for the annual Icebreaker 8K, likely the first event where I’ll actually dress up as a real runner!

If you’re looking to do a “serious” fun run, check out the 36th annual Gunner Shaw Memorial cross country race, hosted this Saturday by the Lions Gate Road Runners club at Jericho Sailing Centre. For more info click HERE.

This lovely lady had the same expression Gord did when Cindy Roberts offered an invite to the Dirty Duo races in March! (Gord Kurenoff photo)

FINISH LINES:The Dirty Duo, the first event in the 2020 Foretrails Run Series, is scheduled for March 7. It has 50K, 30K and 15K runnings events, a 30K bike event, a 30K run and bike relay, and a 30K bike and run solo event. When Cindy Roberts said “hope to see you there” at the end of Saturday’s Santa Run, I lied and said I’m already training for it. Speaking of ho, ho, ho!

Gotta run …