Sean Geasley and Aleta Ewing

Sean Geasley and Aleta Ewing were dressed in the spirit of the 12K’s of Christmas last year.

Pets, Christmas and exercise are the order of the day next Saturday as the 11th annual Fulton Homes 12K’s of Christmas takes place.

A 12K run and runs/walks of 6 and 1.2 kilometers are a central feature of the event beginning at 7:30 a.m. Dec. 14 and runs through 12:30 p.m. at Freestone District Park, 1045 E. Juniper Road, Gilbert.

What started a decade ago by Fieldworks Events & Marketing, Inc. of Scottsdale, is now rated as one of the 10 best family runs in the country by Runners World  magazine. The magazine also rated the 12k’s as one of the nation’s top “bucket-list races for you and your dog.”

It includes one of the season’s largest pet-adoption events as well as a Santa’s Pet Village with 20 pet rescue groups on hand offering information as well as animal-oriented gifts. 

Among those groups are the Akita Advocates Relocation Team Arizona, Any Rat Rescue, Arizona Adopt a Greyhound, Arizona Border Collie Rescue, Arizona Sheltie Rescue, Arizona Great Pyrenees Rescue, Back the Blue Pet Rescue, Boxer Luv, Desert Harbor Doberman, K9 Heroes, Mini Mighty Mutts, R.A.I.N. Rescuing Animals in Need, Rusty’s Angels Sanctuary, Save the Cats Arizona, Saving One Life Animal Rescue, Southwest Collie Rescue and W.O.W. Dog Rescue.

A Christmas Bazaar features more than 50 vendors with gift items for people and pets.

Admission is free to both Santa’s Pet Village and the Christmas Bazaar.

Of the three runs/walks, the shortest is the Santa Sled Run for families, who are welcome to bring decorated wagons strollers or similar vehicles along with their pets – preferably dressed in holiday attire.

Christmas carolers and performers will be stationed along the run/walk route and gifts will be given for the “most Christmas spirit and the best Christmas-themed running outfits on people and their pets,” organizers said.

Dozens of scout troops, school chorale and instrumental groups, performing outfits and families sing carols, play handbells and provide other holiday entertainment. 

All 6K and 12K participants will receive a pair of high-quality running socks. 

People can pre-register for the run/walk at 12krun.com or sign up the day of. A portion of the proceeds supports participating animal rescues.  

Over the past 10 years, the 12k’s of Christmas has raised over $100,000 to help the animals and has helped almost 2,200 pets find forever homes.