Runners prepare for the race, suiting up in their red outfits and white beards.
"This is very exciting, this is my 12th race of the year. My goal for 2013 was to run in a race every month," said Phillip Peterson of Colchester.
"This year is actually kind of special to me because I just finished chemo, so that's why I really decided to run this year," said Loraine Locke of Milton.
The 3rd annual Santa 5K -- or 3.1 mile -- race involves runners decked out in full Santa suits. The course starts and ends at Ri Ra's Irish Pub on Church street in Burlington and the route circles the downtown. "Today we have close to 1,700 Santas, all raising money for Camp Ta-Kum-Ta. And we have Santas from all over the states and Canada," said Kelly Arnott, a race organizer.
The South Hero-based camp is geared towards kids with cancer -- a place to take back some of their childhood. "Last year we raised $15,000, so we're hoping for the same this year," Arnott said.
Officials say the camp received its unusual name from a camper, who had once said she wanted a 'camp to come ta.'
"All the Santas -- we asked them to collect pledges to support their run -- and that money comes to Camp Ta-Kum-Ta and is used to support our year round programs," said Hattie Johnson, the camp's Director of Development.
After they finish the race, the Santas are treated to a full breakfast courtesy of Ri Ra's, one of the sponsors of the event. "These beards are hard to run in because you can't really breathe in them, but it was fun I wouldn't have it any other way," said Alex Bousquet of Morrisville.
A good excuse for Santa Claus to get some exercise -- and for a good cause.
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