Santa Monica-Venice Christmas Run: a run for the holidays

Dressed in holiday-themed costumes, the Westside communities gathered for the 37th annual Santa Monica-Venice Christmas run this Saturday. Various families and groups participated in the various events held early that morning, including a 5K and 10K run, as well as and holiday costume contest.

Kids and adults alike ran from Ocean Front Walk to Abbot Kinney Blvd. and back in festive costumes like reindeers, elves, Santa Claus, and the Who's of Whoville, to name a few. Christmas music classics such as Mariah Carey's "All I Want For Christmas" played in the background, as contestants ran, danced (sometimes simultaneously) and prepared for their races.

Participants ran for various reasons, such as health, fun, or tradition. Serious athletes, such as the second place winner of the 10K run, Yari Fontebasso, used the short run as a way to train for upcoming Los Angeles marathons. "It's a nice race to get some miles on your legs," said Fontebasso.

Other serious runners like Lizet Garcia, used the run as a training session for triathlons, though she was encouraged by her running partner, Marc Stcherbina to simply have fun. "I'm Santa Claus," said Stcherbina,"And she's the mistress elf," he gestured to Garcia. "Don't tell Mrs. Claus," he joked.

Other participants, including Andrea Dickherber and her running team, were there to enjoy the costume contest as they sported Dr. Seuss's Whoville characters. "I don't really care about my time since I'm slow," Dickherber said.

The Hermosa Hares of Reindeer assembled in a large group, others dressed as the three wise men, Mary, Joseph, and an angel. The winners of the costume contest, however, included runners dressed as a Chanukkah menorah, Elfis (an Elvis elf), and an ugly Christmas sweater were the stars of the show.

Vendors and sponsors set up shop with free smoothies, cookies, "swag bags" from sports apparel companies, to name a few goodies for participants.

Vanessa Harrer and her team dressed as snow angels and snowmen, despite the sunny morning. "It's not really winter weather, but this is a good way to bring in the holiday spirit," Harrer said. Though the Los Angeles most likely won't be seeing snow this winter, to Harrer, this formality doesn't matter. "Everyone one [is] in Santa hats and the Christmas spirit is all around, so I don't really feel like we're missing out since we don't have snow."