News - 18th December 2018
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Winter Wandering with Wascana

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The Canadian Olympic Team slogan of “WE ARE WINTER” is arguably nowhere more true than in Saskatchewan — at least, that’s what we like to think here in Regina.

 

Here in Regina we can expect weeks-long stretches of -40C or colder every year. Since establishing Wascana parkrun in August 2018, we’ve gained a great community of regular attendees by word of mouth, and our numbers have stayed consistent even as the seasons have changed. But in true Saskatchewan fashion, it took our coldest day yet to hit our largest-ever attendance — and it was just a balmy -27C out there! (For contrast, at our third event when it was +38C, there was just a quarter of the attendees compared to that day in November.) Talk to us again after it gets REALLY cold, and we’ll probably report back an attendance of hundreds.

 

(We did initially set our event cancellation cutoff temperature at -25C, but people keep showing up!)

 

Noted winter experts that we are, we thought we’d compile a list of tips on how to make the most of winter running for all you budding cold-weather enthusiasts. Running outside when it’s this cold can look a little intimidating… or just unappealing. But trust us, it’s way more fun than it looks!

 

Grow a beard

When running outside in the cold, you’ll typically feel 15 to 20 degrees warmer than the outside temperature — if you overdress, you’ll find that you can get surprisingly hot and sweaty, even in -20C. However, one area that can get quite cold no matter the temperature is your face. The natural solution to this problem is to grow a full, hearty beard. In addition to keeping your face warm during the actual run, once you’re finished and waiting in line to have your barcode scanned, the icicles formed by sweat will begin to melt, producing a cooling effect (…but not before getting a photo).

 

If you don’t find that growing a beard comes naturally to you, you can always try a buff, balaclava or scarf to get the same benefits.

 

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Wascana parkrunners showcase their face warmers/coolers.

 

Dress the part

As we said, we haven’t yet experienced true cold on a parkrunday here. In the event that we do, here are some actual tips:

  • Wear a breathable first layer on top and bottom — not cotton, as it’ll just soak up your sweat and freeze you
  • Wear a windblocking and/or insulated outer layer
  • Cover your head, hands and feet well, as they’ll lose the most heat. FYI: mittens are warmer than gloves as you can keep your fists balled up!
  • Purchase a pair of winter-specific or trail running shoes made of a thicker material like Gore-Tex. Alternatively, cover the mesh parts on your regular shoes with duct tape to keep your feet warmer
  • If it’s icy, ensure you have grips on your shoes — either DIY with screws in the soles, or a pull-on spike like Yaktrax
  • Wear Vaseline on any exposed skin (and don’t forget sunscreen, even though it’s winter)
  • If it’s REALLY cold, ski goggles work well to protect the skin around your eyes and nose
  • Thoroughly enjoy your hot coffee or tea afterwards!

 

 

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Event Directors Craig and Karen demonstrate what to wear in -40C.

 

Soak up the sun

During the winter months, it’s easy to go an entire day without seeing the sun — you go to work when it’s dark, leave work when it’s dark, and repeat. We’re fortunate to live in a city with upwards of 320 days of sunshine per year, but we hardly get to see it during the week! So it’s a fantastic (and necessary) feeling to start the weekend off at parkrun, taking in that Vitamin D. Nothing beats a fresh, brisk winter day with a bluebird sky and the sun shining down on you (except a calm and sunny 27C day on the beach in January but we have to be realistic in this province).

 

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Wascana parkrunners revel in the sunshine.

 

Take in the surroundings

They say there’s no flowers without rain. By that same accord, if we didn’t have winters like this, we wouldn’t enjoy summer in Saskatchewan nearly as much. Even so, there’s really something to be said for how lucky we are to be out enjoying our incredible surroundings at parkrun on the coldest of days — days when most people are huddled inside watching TV or on their phone. If you’re just sitting on your couch looking out the window, you’re not quite taking in this beauty to its fullest extent!

 

Enjoy the bragging rights

We were pretty amused a few weeks ago when a photo of our November 17th first finisher and his frosted eyelashes went parkrun viral after getting picked up by parkrun UK social media. The photo generated hundreds of likes, comments and shares from people from all over the UK (and indeed, the world) who were amazed at the dire conditions in which we run. But if you’re a Canadian parkrunner, you know that this is just any old Saturday from November through March. Or often April. And sometimes May. Feel proud!

 

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parkrun UK likes to spread the word about its Canadian friends.

 

We’re lucky to live in a place that allows us to experience all four seasons, and so glad to be a part of the global parkrun community since coming onboard in August. Here’s to our next six months and beyond!

 

Happy parkrunning,

The Wascana parkrun team

 

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