Video: Record turnout as hundreds of Santas race through Leeds

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A SEA of Santas dodged shoppers in Leeds as they rushed through the city centre.

Hundreds of festive fundraisers got into the Christmas spirit and hit the high street for the annual Santa Dash to raise cash for a local hospice.

Santa Dash.

Santa Dash.

The popular event in aid of St Gemma’s Hospice attracted its biggest ever turnout – with more than 550 adults and children rocking up in their bright red Santa suits for the event.

Organisers hope the race will help raise £17,000 for the hospice, which is based in Moortown.

Speaking to the Yorkshire Evening Post, fundraiser Becky Hole said: “It was by far our biggest Santa Dash so far.

“There were so many people there – they just kept on coming!

“Everyone did a warm up before the run and it looked quite funny.

“People were stopping in the street and asking, ‘What on earth is going on?’

“It helped promote the hospice and we had a lot of sign-ups on the day as well, which is great.

“People said they really enjoyed it and said it was a lot of fun.”

Runners met in their festive outfits at the start line outside WH Smiths at Lands Lane at 10am.

After a quick warm up, they followed a route along a pedestrianised area of Leeds city centre, meaning that no road closures were necessary.

The rather unusual race, which is now in its eighth year, includes a one-mile or two-mile route and is suitable for both adults and children.

The registration fee is £8, which also includes a Santa suit.

For fundraisers who are feeling a little more creative, they can wear their own festive fancy dress for just £5.

Runners are also asked to raise sponsorship money for the hospice.

Fundraiser Becky added: “It costs us £1,000 an hour to run the hospice, which is £24,000 a day, so this money will really help.”

St Gemma’s Hospice provides specialist medical and nursing care for local people with life-limiting illnesses and support for their families and carers.

Care provided is free of charge to patients and their families.

To find out more or to take part in next year’s event, visit www.st-gemma.co.uk.

You can also go to www.facebook.com/st.g.hospice or follow the hospice on Twitter @stgemmashospice.