Over 1,400 Santa’s braved the unpredictable British weather to take part in the festive event, which allows runners to raise money for Manchester United Foundation, or any charity of their choice.
Former United captain, Robson, took to the stage on the Old Trafford forecourt at 11.30am to start the 5K Serious Santa Run, a route which takes runners past the sights of the Imperial War Museum, The Lowry and MediaCityUK before entering the Theatre of Dreams and crossing the finish line at the players’ tunnel. He was then joined by Coronation Street star Antony Cotton to set off the 2K Family Fun Runners at 12.30pm.
Robson commented, “All the players and ex-players try and support the Foundation as much as we can and the Santa Run is a really enjoyable event that has grown and grown over the last eight years. It’s always great when the fans come down to enjoy themselves and do their best for charity.”
Antony Cotton, who has been a keen supporter of the Foundation for many years, said, “The Foundation does amazing work and I’m delighted to attend year in year out. It’s a proper family event, from grandparent to little kids; even the pet dog turns up.”
He added, “Anyone who gets up this early on a Sunday morning to run around in this weather must be mad, but it also proves their heart is in it and the people who ran today have done so much for charity, they should be very proud of themselves.”
Other Christmas activities taking place around the stadium included a brass band playing favourite festive tunes, the Manchester United Foundation street dance crew performing ahead of each race and Father Christmas was giving out early Christmas gifts in his grotto.
19 year-old Matthew Woodward, a United fan from Cambridge who currently studies at the University of Manchester, won the 5K race in just 18 and a half minutes. He said, “This is my first Santa Run, I do a lot of running and I’m currently training for a marathon so it was nice to have a bit of fun in a shorter distance race. I did it in eighteen and a half minutes which is a personal best for me so that’s great."
He added, “The best part of the race had to be coming down the tunnel into the Theatre of Dreams, being a United fans makes it even more special.”