The 13th Kent Christmas Cracker 5 miler at Betteshanger Country Park, near Deal, drew a record entry of more than 400 Santas, Elves and assorted festive-clad runners to the 365-acre former spoil tip for Betteshanger Colliery, now happily transformed into a beautiful nature reserve and multi-sports venue opened by Sir David Bellamy in 2007.
Prolific race promoters Nice Work made good use of the flat and fast, purpose-built cycle track that provides a scenic, two-lap course totalling five miles. All finishers received a Christmas pudding, Santa-themed medal and glass of mulled wine to share the festive spirit on a cold but sunny Sunday morning (16 December).
The fastest five milers in action were under-20 junior Charlie Brisley (Invicta East Kent, 25:33), Matthew Collyer (Coastal Striders, 28:40) and Lee Hardie (M40, 29:29).
Abigail Cardwell (Thanet Roadrunners, 35:19) took the top prize in the women's race from W50 master W45 Sarah Maguire (Canterbury Harriers, 36:53) and Nina Bedwell (37:14).
There were 335 finishers in 1:16:29 representing 26 different clubs and 5mph or better was maintained by 290 runners, despite the handicap of festive fancy dress.
The following online testimonial sums up this uniquely enjoyable race: “Perfect running conditions, weather and track. Well organised and friendly race with a Santa medal and Christmas pud. Thanks to all the marshals, organisers and thousands of miners who put all the stuff there for us to run on! Definitely one for my diary next year. Merry Christmas all”.