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Five sporty Christmas challenges you need to try this month

Danielle De Wolfe

We know Christmas is the time of year to over-indulge and not wake up at stupid o'clock in the morning in preparation for a marathon. But these one-of-a-kind sporty challenges include fancy dress aplenty and an abundance of feel-good entertainment that's just too good to miss:

1. The Great Christmas Pudding Race – Covent Garden, December 5

Christmas Pudding Race

© Great Christmas Pudding Race

Opportunities to watch your boss grasp desperately at Christmas puddings while dressed as an oversized brussels sprout just don’t come around often enough. And it’s for that reason Covent Garden’s very own annual Great Christmas Pudding Race was invented (well that and raising a shed load of money for Cancer Research UK). The event is now in its thirty-fifth year, and sees participants tackling a series of inflatable, slippery and downright stupid obstacles, in a race that winds itself around Covent Garden’s West Piazza. And you know what the best part is? You don’t even need to take part to enjoy the spectacle. 

2. Santa Charity Cycle – Richmond, December 5 

Over the busy Christmas period, the high demand for presents means a sleigh isn’t always at Santa’s disposal. Fear not: the bloke with the white beard has a two-wheeled backup plan. If, like Santa, you too fancy donning a red and white two-piece, then the annual Santa Cycle is the event for you. All in aid of charity (the Shooting Star Chase Children’s Hospice), your journey begins at Whole Foods Richmond, with a route that meanders for 19 miles across parks and roads to your finishing post at the hospice. In the true spirit of Christmas there’s no entry fee, and all that’s asked of you is to don fancy dress, smother your bicycle in tinsel, grab a present for the kids, and nab yourself two wheels and a helmet.  

Santa Dash – various locations, December 5–6 


have you ever seen a cooler girl gang? @lozzarach @lauralouisewh #santarun #vauhauscuteshit

A photo posted by Hazel (@hazel_vau) on

Take a sleigh-load of amateur runners, hand them an ill-fitting Santa suit (beard and all) and then proceed to watch them turn the colour of beetroot as they dash either 5km or 10km across this great city. The 2015 Santa Dash is taking place at destinations all across the capital, with sites including Victoria Park, Greenwich Park and Tower Bridge hosting events. It’s a great way for first-time runners to give a distance event a go and for more established runners to pick up a PB before over-indulging during the Christmas break.

London Santa Skate – Hyde Park Corner, December 12 

There’s nothing quite like 500 Santas making their way across the capital in what can only be described as a giant festive conga train. But this epic Santa skate doesn’t stop there. Snaking its way past some of London’s most loved landmarks, the skating Santas are accompanied by what’s known as the 'LondonSkate BassFreight' and a skating reindeer-led 'LFNS BRYANbox' (apparently that’s code for a sound system of epic proportions). There’s even an opportunity to stuff your face with mince pies at the half-time refuelling station in Trafalgar Square. And if you’ve still got the energy to continue the merriness, organisers have arranged a giant after-party at The Star of Kings. Whether you’re an amateur or a pro-skater, all abilities are welcome.

Peter Pan Cup – The Serpentine, December 25

© Serpentine Swimming Club

As residents of a city steeped in tradition, it’s no real surprise that something as absurd as the Christmas Day dip still manages to pull in the crowds. Although the annual Outdoor Swimming Society December Dip has decided to hibernate this year, the Serpentine Swimming Club presents an alternative bone-chilling offering. Despite only being open to club members, this is one event most would rather watch from the sidelines accompanied by a vat of mulled wine. Look on as a bunch of over-enthusiastic men and women hurl themselves into what can only be described as a rather large, near-freezing pond. Rumour has it that this age-old tradition was originally designed to aid digestion after one too many helpings of Christmas dinner – now that’s something we can all sympathise with.

Feeling festive yet? Here are more ways to celebrate Christmas in London.

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