Monday, December 10, 2007

Toronto Santa Speedo Run

Wrapped in teeny tiny Lycra suits, Santa's packages made a nippy jaunt through Yorkville yesterday.

A few dozen brave athletes took part in the third annual Toronto Santa Speedo Run, decorated in strategically placed tinsel and red ribbons to supplement their bathing suits.

"It's not really something you anticipate seeing -- people running around Yorkville in little red Speedos," said Matt Freeman, who organized the Sick Kids Foundation fundraiser. "Canadians are tough and party."

This was the third annual run for Freeman, who started the event as a way of giving back to The Hospital for Sick Children, where he was put back together time and time again during his "accident-prone" childhood.

Tying a wide red ribbon above her bathing suit bottoms, Shannon Sinclair explained before the run, "This is to hide from the jiggle. And it's festive. It's damn cold," she added, fitting retrofitted red slippers over her runners.

As of yesterday, the runners had raised more than $30,000, with every dollar going to the Foundation.

That's up from last year's nearly $20,000 raised, and way up from the year before, when $7,500 was brought in.

It's not so hard to hassle people for donations when you have a plan like this, said Laura Branson.

"You're doing something not so fun -- running in the cold. They say, 'That's crazy,' and they donate," Branson said, holding a Christmas-clad dog named Rex, who also took part in the run. "I'm not scared, but I hate the cold, so I just want it to be over."

"It's a great cause and hey, we're Canadian -- we should be doing this kind of thing," said two-time Speedo runner Bruce Lewis-Watts, an Ironman competitor.

With "Streakin' Speedsters" painted on their abs, Natalie Patterson and four other women led the way out of Hemingway's restaurant for the start of the 30-minute run.

"I'm excited and nervous," Patterson said. "We're bearing ourselves to the public."

On, where donations are still being accepted, the event was summed up with this: "It's a fun run with the only objective being to raise as much money as possible, while making complete and utter spectacles of ourselves."

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