Breaking In A New Year - Polar Bare StyleJanuary 16, 2013
By Bob Nicol
The Polar Bare Run (aka The Frosty Nipple Run), Jan 1, 2013, Winnipeg, MB
Photo Credits : Kelly Morton Photography
I am sure you have heard of the Polar Bear Swim or Dip that has become a bit of a tradition on New Years Day around the world. This is where you either jump into or go for a bit of a swim in the ocean, river or a lake to break in the new year. This is the Wikipedia definition of The Polar Bear Plunge:
“A polar bear plunge is an event held during the winter where participants enter a body of water despite the low temperature. In the United States polar bear plunges are usually held to raise money for a charitable organization, while in Canada they are associated with New Year’s Day.”
Thousands of participants do this ritual every year and I tip my toque off to them, because I just can’t see myself doing that, the water thing still scares the living bejesus out of me (go figure says the barefoot runner).
That being said, living in Winnipeg we like to do things a little bit differently, take it a step further, while keeping our feet firmly planted on the ground. Let me introduce you to the Polar Bare Run or sometimes affectionately called the Frosty Nipple Run. Before you think this is some type of nudie run, let me set you straight, the only nipples you will see at this race are the ones that are attached to the guys (although some of them may end up falling off one of these years with the temps that we have been enduring here lately).
This was my second year taking part, a unsanctioned event that was started approximately 9 years ago (don’t quote me on that, I am sure somebody will correct me if I am off base). It is a word of mouth event, that is circulated through the very dedicated Winnipeg running community, but of course not for the faint of heart, or those with lack of good circulation. Of course with the fluctuation of the temperature, comes the fluctuation of participation, to be honest the last two years have been a bit chilly and the turn out has still been pretty darn incredible.
- The Location:The Formal Gardens at Assiniboine Park, Winnipeg, MB
- The Time: January 1, 9:00 am sharp, every year. (Being late means you lose the group warmth that is gained by the mass huddle at the start).
- The Distance:700 metres approximately, some run the extra 300 metres to the start line to gather miscellanous clothing like housecoats, pants, shoes, etc.
- Temperature:A balmy -24 degrees C with a windchill dropping thet temperature close to -30.
- Attire:Bikini’s for the gals, Speedo’s for the guys (of course there are other clothing options as well as long as there is as much tastefully exposed skin as possible).
Lets set the stage shall we, you drive into the park between 8:30 a.m. and 8:45 a.m. on New Year’s Day, the place seems quiet, almost too quiet. You pull up to the scene of the crime and all you see is a bunch of parked cars sitting with the engines running and people shuffling around inside. Nothing looks out of the ordinary until you see it, the first sign that something unusual is about to happen,
The First Bit of Evidence That Something Unique Is Going To Take Place
Suddenly at about 8:50 a.m., everybody start exiting their cars, wearing everything from long coats to house coats, they head to the inprompt start line and start to mingle. Then the call happens, “Two minutes to go,” and things start to happen, jackets come off, housecoats get tossed to the side of the road and there we are, approximately 40 runners wearing really not much of anything getting ready to take a frosty lap around the gardens.
Pre Run Greetings this is how we roll in Winnipeg
All of a sudden, somebody yells GO! and we are off. All you see is a bunch of scantily clad runners hooting and hollering as they head down the road. To the average bystander this must look totally insane, but to us it is the perfect way to break in the new year. It doesn’t last long as everybody sprints around the loop to get to the finish line and their hopefully still warm outerwear and vehicles. Of course the event finishes with some more mingling, picture taking and finally with a well deserved gathering at the local coffee shop to warm up and partake in some good conversation.
…..and we’re off
Photo Credits: Kelly Morton Photography
A great shot of the runners from behind
Photo Credits: Kelly Morton Photography
This is just a fun event to do, the participants vary from Boston Marathoners, to club runners, to people who are out to have a good time. So if you are ever in Winnipeg for New Year’s and you are looking for something to do, come by the park and join the run, it will turn into one of those, “I was there when …….. moments.”
Now I know you are probably reading this and wondering if I took the shoes off for this and sprinted around in my barefeet. Well that is definitely a silly question, of course I did. Last year I ran this in a kilt and a toque, this year I decided to step it up a notch and add a little more flare to my wardrobe.
I believe it was a show stopper, what do you think?
Barefoot and wearing a Kate Kift original tutu
Photo Credits: Stephen Anderson-Lindsay Photography
If you want to read more about the run and check out some more photos, please check out my blog post at Winnipeg Barefoot Runners.