LIVERPOOL was transformed into a festive spectacular on Sunday (6 December) for the 12th annual Medicash Santa Dash Liverpool. The Medicash Santa Dash Liverpool attracted 6,235 red, blue and mini Santas for the annual event, considered by many as the official start to the city’s festivities. Created by BTR Liverpool Race Director Alan Rothwell back in 2004, this year’s Dash attracted Santas from across the world who travelled from Canada, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Netherlands and Sweden to take part. Last year, Liverpool beat Las Vegas to become the world’s biggest festive fun run, however this year it just wasn’t meant to be. The Las Vegas Great Santa Run took place the day before Liverpool’s Dash and attracted 8,000 participants – taking the World Santa Challenge title for 2015. So sadly, the Santaz trophy will be making its way back to the States. Guests including Merseyside football legends, Liverpool’s Alan Kennedy and Everton’s Graham Stuart were full of fun and banter cheering on the red and blue Santas. Kennedy, who scored the winning goals in two European Cup Finals, then pulled on his running shoes and took part in the Santa Dash. Special guests also included the Right Worshipful Lord Mayor of Liverpool, Councillor Tony Concepcion; celebrity hairdresser Herbert Howe; Radio City’s Scott Hughes, Claire Simmo, Leanne Campbell, and Lee Butler; and model Santa Joel Hicks from the Always With A Smile charity, who is renowned for his risqué Santa Dash attire – this was his 10th Liverpool Santa Dash! Santas dressed in red and blue Santa suits, as well as many other festive creations, set off on the 5K Dash from Pier Head Liverpool led by an appropriately coloured red and blue Tuk Tuk. The route included the Dale Street flyover – a real spectacle of the course. After being entertained by the Katumba drum ensemble on Dale Street, the Santas made their way to the grandstand finish area outside Liverpool Town Hall, where they were welcomed by stilt walking characters and snow! This was followed by a 1K Mini Dash for youngsters aged 12 and under, who set off from Castle Street and also finished outside Liverpool Town Hall. Lord Mayor of Liverpool, Councillor Tony Concepcion, commented: “This was my first time at the Medicash Santa Dash Liverpool and what a fantastic event. I was thrilled to wave off the Santas at Pier Head Liverpool as they started to Dash, and later congratulated them as they crossed the finish line at Liverpool Town Hall. It was wonderful to see red and blue Santas of all ages take part, collecting their special medal with a big smile on their faces. What an incredible start to the festive season in the city.” BTR Liverpool Race Director Alan Rothwell commented: “The Medicash Santa Dash Liverpool 2015 proved to be a real spectacle, kick-starting the city’s festivities. Santas make such an effort, they absolutely love it and it’s a real pleasure to organise. “We’re disappointed that we have to hand the trophy back to Las Vegas, but we’re far from being beaten. We’re still Europe’s biggest festive fun run and second only in the world to Las Vegas – and that’s no mean feat. Let battle commence for the World Santa Challenge 2016. The race is on to recruit more Santas and bring the title back to Liverpool where it belongs.” Sue Weir, Chief Executive of Medicash, commented: “We were delighted to be this year’s headline sponsor of the Medicash Santa Dash Liverpool. The sea of red and blue Santas gathering at the Pier Head was a real spectacle and really does have to be seen first-hand. “The event is the perfect introduction to leading a healthier lifestyle which is what Medicash is all about, as well as being a great way of getting us all in the Christmas spirit.” Each year, the event attracts individuals; families; charity runners; and corporate organisations. The field also includes wheelchair participants, prams and plenty of four-legged dog friends of Santa. All Santas who completed the main Santa Dash and Mini Dash received a special commemorative medal. It was also a very poignant day for two groups of Santa Dashers. Graeme Gibbons ran the Santa Dash in memory of Merseyside Police Officer Dave Phillips, who was recently killed in the line of duty. There was a very special race bib for Graeme, number 6554 which was Dave’s police force collar number. Graeme’s Santa Dash supporters included his wife Kellie; Dave’s wife Jen and their two daughters; and Dave’s sister Hannah and her two children. They were all on the start line to wave off Graeme and the other Santas. Graeme Gibbons commented: “Dave should have been taking part in the Santa Dash himself, so when Jen asked me to run it in his memory I just knew it was the right thing to do. It was a real honour to represent Dave and to also wear his collar number as my race number. Seeing Dave’s family enjoy Santa Dash day was a really special moment.” A team of 10 Santas ran in memory of Melvina Lewis from Liverpool, who passed away three weeks ago aged 46. Melvina was diagnosed with terminal cancer before last year’s Santa Dash but still took part. The group, including her son Daniel, wore blue Santa suits and carried pictures of Melvina. The official charity partners for the Medicash Santa Dash Liverpool 2015 were Radio City’s Cash For Kids; Claire House Children’s Hospice; Everton in the Community; Jospice; and Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation – who are the five BTR Footsteps Fundraisers charities. Donations are still being taken. The BTR Footsteps Fundraisers initiative brings the charities together through BTR’s key race events by encouraging participants to fundraise and support them. Funds raised will be split equally between the five charities. Donations can be made www.everydayhero.co.uk/event/supportbtrfootsteps The Liverpool Santa Dash 2016 will take place on 4 December. Entries will open shortly.