Walter’s Run, a 19-year-old 5K charity run, will race through West Roxbury streets next month.
The event will kick off Sunday, Dec. 9, with a free, non-competitive youth race for ages 10 and under at 10:40 a.m. The less-than-1K “Little Kid’s Race” is overseen by Santa Claus, and participants receive a ribbon and candy cane from the big-bearded jolly man in red.
Formerly called Santa Scamper, the charity event organized by the neighborhood-based Parkway Running Club was renamed Walter’s Run in 2004 to honor of former running club member 25-time marathoner Walter Burgess who died at age 40 just weeks after completing his first Ironman Triathlon the year prior.
"This event is a holiday tradition for local families," said a statement from race director Keith Shields. "Children look forward to seeing Santa Claus at Walter's Run, as well as Rainbow the Clown, who makes balloon animals for children of all ages."
The event has raised tens of thousands of dollars to benefit three charities: The Boston Globe Santa Fund, the Greater Boston YMCA’s Reach Out Campaign, and the Walter Burgess Scholarship Fund, race organizers said.
Globe Santa, described by those who knew Burgess as a favorite charity of his, provides holiday gifts to needy children in the Boston area; the YMCA of Greater Boston’s Reach Out Campaign gives financial aid to those who could not otherwise afford the organization’s programs and services; the Walter Burgess Scholarship sends young runners to a Newport,-R.I. summer running camp.
The day’s races will start and finish at the West Roxbury YMCA on Bellevue Street.
Amenities include a wheel-measured course, raffle, free running gloves and a swag bag to the first 350 entrants, a post-race feast provided by local businesses, trophies for top finishers and medals for the top three runners in each age group.
For the third straight year, members of Girls on the Run of Suffolk County, a chapter of a national campaign for pre-teen girls which combines running training with curriculum designed to encourage positive emotional, social, mental and physical development, will return to participate in this year’s race.
“We look for races that exemplify community service, as well as fun,” said Jen McNamara, a coach for the girls running organization. “Walter’s Run offers a holiday theme and the Parkway Running Club’s dedication to raising funds for local charities shows the girls that engaging in their communities can be both fun and rewarding. We use the race as an opportunity to celebrate the girls’ growth and accomplishments of the season.”