More than 1,000 runners took part in the 10th Anniversary Jingle Run 5K run/walk to benefit the Lakewood Ranch Medical Center Auxiliary Nursing Scholarship Program on Dec. 17.
Jared Autrie waited two years to don his Santa suit to go for a run around Lakewood Ranch.
But this wasn't any normal run around the 'Ranch. Autrie – wearing the entire Santa getup minus the pants because he said they got too hot while running in 2019 – joined over 1,000 runners and walkers for the 10th Anniversary Jingle Run 5K run/walk to benefit the Lakewood Ranch Medical Center Auxiliary Nursing Scholarship Program on Dec. 17.
The evening kicked off with the Lakewood Ranch High School Chorus entertaining the night's early arrivals along Main Street. Children ages 3-9 then took their turn to run a series of Santa Dashes near the Christmas Tree, and were rewarded with a chance to visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus.
Runners and walkers – a lot of which were decked out in full Christmas attire like Autrie – were greeted with music and a snow machine by the start/finish line for the race on Health Park Way. Many posed for selfies, stretched for the race or even helped pets get into the Christmas spirit while playing in the "snow."
The night had a special meaning for Sarasota residents Bruce and Bobbi Larsen. Bruce Larsen underwent open heart surgery six months ago and spent some time being treated at Lakewood Ranch Medical Center. He credited his strong faith for what he called "a miracle" in that he was able to run in a race just a few yards away from where he was once recovering.
"God healed me, and with a lot of hard work I'm able to be here today," he said. "Six months ago I was right here in the hospital. I've worked out every day getting better and getting healed. I've got a new chance at life and we're doing this together."
Santa may have paced the field to start the race in a brand new Chevrolet Corvette, but in the end it was Austin Venhaus running away with the overall title by finishing the 3.1-mile race in 16 minutes and 21 seconds. Lauren Csubak was the top women's finisher, finishing 13th overall with a time of 19:18.
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