Globe Santa

The focus is on fun at Walter’s Run

By John C. Burke
Globe Santa Correspondent / December 9, 2010

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Hundreds of people are expected to fill the streets of West Roxbury Sunday morning for the 17th annual Walter’s Run.

The event kicks off at the West Roxbury YMCA at 15 Bellevue St. It is named for Walter Burgess, who died suddenly in 2003 at the age of 40. Burgess was an active member of the Parkway Running Club, and he completed 26 marathons and the Great Floridian triathlon.

A 1-kilometer race for children age 10 and under is set to begin at 10:40 a.m. at the YMCA, and the main 5K race is set for 11 a.m. Those who run in the children’s race will receive a ribbon and a candy cane from Santa Claus.

Burgess was a founder of the West Roxbury race, which was at one point named Santa’s Scamper because funds raised from the event were donated to the Boston Globe’s Santa Fund, a favorite charity of the noted runner. In recent years, however, funds raised have been split with the YMCA of Greater Boston Reach Out Campaign and the Walter Burgess Scholarship Fund.

New this year is the participation of Girls on the Run, whose goal is to train local girls between ages 8 and 12 to run a 5K race and teach them about topics including body image, community service, and the dangers of gossiping.

Jenn McNamara, a coach for the group, said: “We were looking for a race with a focus on fun, as well as service. Walter’s Run offers both, with the holiday theme and the obvious passion the organizers have for the sport, as well as the focus on raising money for charity.’’

Walter’s Run has become much more than just a road race, growing into a major neighborhood affair that concludes with a post-race feast of food donated by area merchants. Residents take part as runners, cheerleaders, and spectators.

There will also be a large raffle with many prizes, including Red Sox tickets and health club memberships. The first 250 entrants to the event will receive free running gloves and a swag bag. For children, there will be a visit by Christina the Clown, who will make balloon animals and draw temporary holiday tattoos.