MORE than 200 runners braved wintery conditions to take part in a festive themed charity run at Moors Valley Country Park.

At least 270 people donned antlers and trainers on Sunday morning for the RNLI’S Reindeer Run which returned after a two-year break following the pandemic.

The run has raised thousands for the lifeboat charity over the years, with people from across Dorset and neighbouring Hampshire wearing antlers and lacing their hooves to take part.

RNLI community manager Stephen Bennett said: “This is an event we’ve run for many years but we’ve had a two-year hiatus obviously because of Covid so its really nice to be back here raising funds for the RNLI.

“Last year we did a virtual event which had a lot of people take part and that helped us keep the event alive for this year which is great. We’ve now got around 270 people coming today.

“There’s a real sense of community for this and the RNLI is such a big part of this area so people are always keen to support it. We have over 50 volunteers here to help make this happen as well as volunteers who were here yesterday to get the area ready. People just want to support the fantastic work we do and that’s fantastic.

He added: “Moors Valley have been amazing, they couldn’t have been more supportive. They let us have access to the course and have given us free refreshments for our volunteers as well so we couldn’t have asked for any more from them.”

Upon arrival, runners were offered a free can of Red Bull for a much-needed wake up call and energy boost before heading to pick up their numbers.

Participants of all ages took part in the 10k run which started at 9am on Sunday, November 28. This was followed by a 5k at 10.30am, with a special 1k fun run for youngsters at 11.30am.

Ali Elcy travelled all the way from Southampton with her family for the event. She said: “I’ll take any excuse to get dressed up and it’s a great charity too. Also, it’s a lovely place to run so we thought we’d come.”

Ali, who was dressed as an elf, was running at the event for the first time.

The RNLI also showcased its own Reindeer mascot, who posed for photos and even took part in the pre-run warm up to the delight of the runners.

There are twelve RNLI lifeboat stations across Dorset and Hampshire and last year the volunteer crews launched 801 times, came to the aid of 722 people and saved 12 lives.