HUNDREDS of Santas and a couple of reindeer braced the cold to take part in the annual Prospect Hospice Santa dash.

There were 380 men, women and children, all wearing Father Christmas costumes, gathered at Coate Water for the 2.5k and 5k races yesterday morning.

It was the biggest number of competitors the race has ever seen, with people being turned away for the first time.

This is the sixth time the event has been organised by the North Wiltshire Hash House Harriers, with the first taking place in the town centre with only a handful of runners.

Some of the runners were joined by petsdressed up in reindeer outfits, and some parents chose to push their children around in pushchairs.

One of the organisers, Sandie Mulcahy, of the North Wiltshire Hash House Harriers, said the day was a huge success.

“It is brilliant seeing all the people turn up in their Santa outfits and to see the host of Santas at the startline,” she said.

“We raised around £2,000 last year but this is our best turn out yet so we are hoping to raise even more for Prospect.”

First across the finish line in the 5k race was 29-year-old Tom Gillbard, of Ash Brake. It was his first attempt at the race and he was wrapped in tinsel rather than the traditional Santa costume.

“It is a great event, which is raising money for a good cause,” he said.

“This is my first time of running it so maybe it is a bit of beginners’ luck, but I am pleased to have won.”

Will Penfold, 14, of Old Town, took the 2.5k race crown.

He said: “It is great to win and this is a really good event which raises money for such a good cause.

“I run a bit but I didn’t expect to win. It is good to see so many people dressed up as Santa and getting in the spirit.”

Sheryl Crouch, head of fundraising at Prospect Hospice, said “It is a fantastic event and it is really great to see so much local support. “From the hospice’s point of view, we are really thrilled that people are supporting it and raising money for us.”