Festive ‘Santa Run’ returns to Pacific Beach on Dec. 11

Santa Run 5K participants don “sunny” Santa attire for the race, an outfit included with the entry fee.

Event has three races - a 5K plus a 1-mile kids run and a dog event


Get ready to lace up your sneakers, add a white beard and warm-weather version of Santa’s famous red suit, and join thousands of your Pacific Beach neighbors for the ninth annual San Diego Santa Run.

The Saturday, Dec. 11 event will feature the 5K “Santa Run” for adults, teens and older children; a 1-mile “Santa’s Elves” Kids Run for those 12 and younger plus a 1-mile “Santa’s Little Helper” run/walk for dogs and their owners. The dog event is limited to 125 entrants.

The holiday-themed event began in 2013. Last year it went on hiatus due to the pandemic, said Eric Marenburg, chief running officer and co-founder of PB-based San Diego Running Co., which is organizing the races.

“It is the only event like it in San Diego,” Marenburg said. “Those who experience it say it is the happiest event and there is a lot of competition for the title.”

Marenburg said part of this is attributed to the “silly” and “festive” atmosphere due to all 5K runners wearing Santa suits. “It brings out every type of person, families, kids and young adults celebrating (the holidays),” he said.

The 5K will begin at 9 a.m., the kids race at 11 a.m. and dog event at 11:30 a.m. It will be held on part of the same route as the Pacific Beach Holiday Parade that will begin at noon on Dec. 11.

“For the 5K, the highlight is that every participant wears a sunny Santa suit,” Marenburg said.

The outfit — included with the entry fee — features shorts and a short-sleeved shirt styled to resemble Santa’s red suit, a belt, white beard and sunglasses. An optional accessory is candy cane socks for an additional $10. Entrants will also receive a timing chip, custom bib and drink ticket at Mavericks Beach Club.

Youngsters 12 and under (plus their parents) can enter the 1-mile Santa’s Elves Kids Run.

Parents are welcome (for free) to join their children in the 1-mile race for Santa’s elves. The youngsters will receive the race bib, a Santa hat, sunglasses and — new this year — a time chip and finisher medal. Marenburg said the chip timer was added because parents “love” to know how fast their child completed the mile-long route.

Dog owners will receive the event bib, a Santa hat and sunglasses. Marenburg said many dogs will likely wear holiday costumes based on previous years.

He said the dog event was started because many people like running and walking with their dogs, but due to safety reasons dogs cannot be allowed in the 5K.

The 1-mile Santa’s Little Helper run/walk is for dogs (often decked out in holiday attire) and their owners.

The start and finish line for the races will be at 912 Garnet Ave. (in front of the Bank of America building). Due to the route, Garnet Avenue (between Bayard and Ingraham streets) and Cass Street (between Garnet Avenue and Turquoise Street) will be closed to traffic.

Because of its festiveness, thousands of spectators also line the route. Marenburg said the best place to see the participants in all three events — plus stake out a parade viewing spot — would be near the intersection of Cass Street and Garnet Avenue.

In advance, the entry fees are $50 for the 5K and $30 each for the kids and dogs runs. Register at If spaces are available, the entry fees on race day will increase to $55 for the 5K and $35 for the other two events, Marenburg said.

Proceeds go toward the Pacific Beach Holiday Parade. The race typically raises $10,000 each year for the parade, Marenburg said.