It’s time for more winter mojo! And thanks to La Sportiva and my awesome readers, I can hand over yet another post to people who are far more qualified to fire you up for winter running than I am.
Oh, yeah – I’m also giving away two more sets of La Sportiva hobnail kits, and there’s still one more week for you to enter the grand prize drawing for a pair of Crossover GTX (to be reviewed next week),Wildcat GTX, and hobnail kits from La Sportiva. One male winner and one female winner will be drawn; to enter, just e-mail me a photo of your winter running exploits.
Before we get to the real entrants, here’s a sampling of winter ruggedness from someone who didn’t enter: my friend Gretchen. Back in October, she invited me for a long run with some friends of hers in the mountains, knowing full well I wouldn’t take her up on it because it there was snow in the forecast. Sure enough, I later learned that the regularly scheduled run was changed due to heavy snowfall on the trail … but that’s not the story.
The story is this: here's a photo from the backup run they chose:
So … yeah. I wonder what the really snowy run would have looked like. Needless to say, I’m glad I didn’t try to join her.
Fortunately for you, there are plenty of runners out there who are less like me and more like Gretchen – and it’s time for me to hand the post over to them, with a few of my comments along the way …
From Richard: Trail running in New Zealand. This might not be hardcore but dare tell me that winter is not beautiful!
(Absolutely. Richard’s the same one who sent a photo of himself in waist-deep snow for last week’s post, so I don’t doubt his hardcore-ness for a second.)
From Turi: I'm always the one with the camera, so I have very few of myself, but this is a friend – the pic was taken during the Cold Turkey Run, a 4.4 mile trail run the weekend before Thanksgiving, and part of Carson City, NV's Winter Trail series. Most of these trails are part of the Escape From Prison Hill course, a crazy hilly spring half marathon.
(Someone who runs with a camera – a man after my own heart! I wonder if his female friends get mad at him for taking pictures of their backsides like some of mine do.)
From Krystyna: That's me running in the Winterman half-marathon back home in Canada. It was a cooold day as I recall, and of course it started to gust and snow. Just before the race start, a homeless person ran away with all the finisher's medals. It was the oddest thing I've ever known to happen in a race. We got the medals back, ran the race, then reheated ourselves with yummy food and hot showers. That run really epitomized winter running for me.
(Awesome pic – and I’d think the homeless guy would have taken the food, don’t you? Obviously, even the homeless thieves in Canada are polite.)
From Chris: My running partner, Ginseng, loves running in snow. In the Colorado Front Range, the lower trails will be dry and she'll tag along behind my heels. Once we reach the snow, she runs like a maniac. She weaves through trees and barrels through drifts. If she's enjoying the snow, it makes the worst post hole trail bearable.
Back in October, I decided to check out the Indian Peaks Wilderness Area. As I turned off the highway into the access road, it was snowing. At the parking lot, my car read 30* and a few inches on snow on the ground. I almost immediately drove back and called the 4 hour drive a wash. I didn't have the clothes/gear for the 25 mile loop planned. Then I saw my puppy's face in the rear view mirror. We did about a 5 mile out and back. The photo above was taken just before we turned around. We were above tree line and the wind gusts were picking up.
(Yet another reason I’m a cat person. And did you notice that Chris is wearing shorts? Good golly.)
From Timothy: It takes a unique mindset to appreciate winter in Nebraska. There is never much snow to enjoy, yet the temperatures continually dip below zero. It took me a while, but a combination of exposed feet and great local trails really helped me to understand and see the beauty in my home state.
(Another animal-themed entry … and what the heck are all those birds doing out there in sub-zero weather? Whatever happened to flying south?)
Author’s note before the next two: the beard photos keep on coming!
From Martin: A photo of myself at the finish of the 2004 HURL Fat Ass 50K. Weather conditions for the day included icy, snow-packed roads with temps ranging from a low of -6*F to a high of -2*F. I finished in 5:45:54, third out of 3 runners.
(Martin was one of last week’s winners, for a shot from a snow-covered 50K that he later described as “an improvement over normal course conditions”. So apparently he likes this crazy cold stuff – and the race he described above has to be the most badass last-place finish I’ve ever heard of.)
From Doug: The picture was taken in Harpers Ferry, WV, December 2009 . We had record snow and low temperatures over the holiday season. I decided to head out for a short run. A couple of miles into the run, it started to snow again. Half way into the run it started coming down rather hard. The picture was taken when I made it back to my car.
(At first I wondered why he wasn’t smiling here, but then it hit me: that ice wall around his mouth probably prevents all movement. Yikes.)
From Jennifer: Winter running in Utah is my favorite. There's something about snow that silences everything else. I like that sometimes I won't see a single person while I'm out but I can still see footprints of someone who is just as crazy as I am. I like the crazy looks I get from drivers. I especially like the cold foggy days that turn your hair and eyelashes white and make for good conversation while running.
(OK, so it’s not a beard picture – but it’s frozen hair, which is still totally cool. And before I posted this photo, my wife told me that I’m not allowed to comment about how pretty these two girls are. So I won’t.)
And we’re down to our final two! Congratulations to this week’s winners of the La Sportiva hobnail kits:
From Tammy: December 2009, Whistler BC-- Mt Currie in the background. Winter running is the best! The sound of your feet hitting the frozen ground, and the stillness in the cold air is almost rejuvenating. I love the change in technique required in order to travel over the icy terrain or through the snow- an easy run quickly becomes technical. A fun challenge!
(I love, love, LOVE this photo – it’s almost enough to make me want to get out there and run with her. On the other hand … )
From Ryan: One of the craziest races takes place in my backyard: the Mt. Mitchell challenge! A marathon distance and 40 mile distance race. to the 6684’ summit of Mt. Mitchell. In 2009 the conditions were fierce - the race started at 6 in the morning and it was 40 degrees and raining. 14 miles later at the turnaround it was 28 degrees and this awful mix between snow ice and rain, and though it was a relief to hit the barrier where that pouring rain turned to snow … well, being soaked to the core, the core temp dropped pretty fast. Needless to say, I needed to run harder because that was the only way I was gonna keep warm!
I completed the marathon course in 2nd! 3000' of elevation gain and loss, in pouring rain, snow and sleet, with icy, muddy, rocky trails! Yeah! Anyways, winter trail running is medicine for me - the crisp, frigid conditions demand full attentiveness, and they remind me that I was created to run!
(And this picture was created to win this contest. Shorts and a singlet in 28 degrees and icy rain? Amazing, dude.)
Thanks very much to La Sportiva for sponsoring this contest, and special thanks to the readers who provided today’s entries. Tammy and Ryan: send me your addresses so I can pass them along to La Sportiva for your hobnail kits. To everyone else: there’s still time to enter next week’s grand prize contest by sending me your winter running photos, but get a move on, because next Wednesday will be here before you know it.
Then get out there in the cold and get running!
Get updates as soon as they're posted! Click here to subscribe to Running and Rambling.
Check out the Running Life book for a collection of our most popular columns.