EACH year thousands of brave Santa’s battle the British weather in order to raise money for the Manchester United Foundation, or a charity of their own choosing.

Thousands of runners take part in the annual festive run outside of the Theatre of Dreams, which this year will be started by United legend, Denis Irwin. The treble-winning player will be at the ready to start the 5K Santa Run at 11:30, before joining families in the 2K fun run at 12:30.

For nine years The Manchester United Foundation has hosted the event, raising hundreds of thousands of pounds for a plethora of amazing charities. Speaking to Manutd.com, Irwin revealed he couldn’t wait to take part in the run.

“I hope it’s a really enjoyable day and that there’ll be a tremendous turnout because it’s a fantastic opportunity to raise money for a charity of your choice. It’s not often you get the chance to run round Old Trafford either, so it promises to be a lot of fun for everyone.

“I know Ole [Gunnar Solskjaer] has started the Santa Run in the past and I think Robbo did it last year so I’m following in some pretty famous footsteps,” said Irwin.

One person taking part in the Santa Run this year is Charlotte Layton.

Charlotte, who is the Deputy Director of People Services for the 5 Boroughs Partnership NHS Foundation trust, completed her first fun run for The Motor Neurone Disease Association, after a family friend was struck with the illness.

“I completed my first Santa Dash in 2013 after a very close family friend was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease. It’s my way of doing my bit to raise funds to help find a cure and to provide the resources that families need at diagnosis and for ongoing care and treatment. Prior to the Ice bucket challenge not a lot was known regarding MND.

“Since 2013, I have also take a part in the 2014 and 2015 Manchester 10k runs, the Liverpool Santa dash last weekend and of course I have the Manchester United Santa dash this coming Sunday!”

As a senior member of the NHS community, Charlotte revealed that her role in the NHS, as with many other people, allows her an insight into how the money helps vulnerable people.

“I think my participation in my chosen events is a personal choice however I guess my NHS role allows me to see first-hand where and how charitable funds can help. NHS staff, whether clinical or not, do share a set of values. There is a desire to ‘do for others’, ‘support others’ and ‘care for others’. This extends into people’s personal lives as it is part of the values and behaviours they have naturally.”

At the weekend, Charlotte and eighty of her colleagues from the 5 Boroughs Partnership ran the Liverpool Santa Dash in order to raise money for their charities.

“Both the MND Manchester branch and the national MND charity are very supportive of any events and I have made some good contacts and friends. For example, the Manchester branch are one of this years’ recognised charities in the Manchester Santa dash after I sent them the info. At the weekend there will be a crowd of us known as #Teamsykes supporting the Santa dash. We even have some of the younger family members doing the 2k fun run straight after the 5k race.”

Liverpool's Santa Dash
Beards at the ready!

As well as the gruelling run, the weekend storms didn’t help them one bit. However, Charlotte believed it was all worth it.

“The weather at the weekend left a lot to be desired as we all recovered from Storm Desmond. Driving wind and rain at the Dockland start point was enough to put anyone off but once you are there the atmosphere carries you. The Liverpool course is also a challenge because it’s uphill, however the crowds and the supporters cheering you on help you to zone in on what you are there to achieve and when I cross a finish line I always get a little emotional.

With a target of £1,000, Charlotte has set her sights on smashing that target this Sunday at the Manchester United Foundation’s Santa Run.

“Earlier in the year the 10k raised about £900 so it was my intention to try and use the Santa dash to push us towards the £1,000 mark. The Manchester MND branch are raising awareness through their social media sites as well so I have had a few donations from strangers which is lovely. Five pounds funds a resource pack for newly diagnosed families and I know what a difference these can make.

“So even if that was all I raised I’d still be dusting my trainers off and running in rain, wind, sunshine or snow.”

The Manchester United Foundation Santa Run takes place this coming weekend, on Sunday 13 December. An entry fee of £10 for adults, £5 for children and £30 for a family will all go to the MU Foundation.

Take at look at last years fun run in the video below! 

By Hayden Brigden
@HaydenB_journo

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