It’s February and for the northern hemisphere it’s been a typically cold winter.
parkruns are weekly whatever the weather. Getting out and being active is possible in all seasons, even in the coldest of temperatures!
In some parkrun places, like Canada, the USA, Poland and Russia, it can get extremely cold. But, with a little bit of preparation, parkrun doesn’t have to wait until spring.
The photos from winter parkruns are a wonderful contrast to the images we see from warmer ones, and it’s a lot of fun to compare the same parkrun throughout the year.
Here’s Nose Hill parkrun in Canada through all four seasons. It’s another thing that makes being outside so special – we get to see and experience the beauty as the seasons come and go.
Operationally, there’s lots to think about when events are taking place in extreme cold. And it’s very normal for parkruns to be cancelled because of incredibly low temperatures. In January 2022, around a third of events in the USA were cancelled due to severe weather conditions.
Local events have local knowledge about how best to deal with local temperatures.
An event taking place in -15°C (5°F) may be an obvious cancellation at one location, but if it’s normal in another then the event will probably continue because the event team has risk assessed it and participants are all suitably prepared.
In such cold conditions where events are on, teams are advised to keep watch for travelling parkrunners who may be under-prepared, so do some quick research before packing your bags.
Volunteering when it’s very cold can come with special considerations too. Volunteers should be suitably dressed and prepared for the cold conditions and should discuss with their run director if there are any concerns.
Snow and ice
Often we get asked how parkruns cope with snow and ice. The most dangerous conditions are those that change fast and are unexpected. Outside of that, if the temperature doesn’t cross the freezing threshold, and so ice doesn’t form, then many events are safe to continue.
Sometimes it’s not clear what will happen overnight, so every event has a pre-course check to make sure it’s safe for parkrun to go ahead.
parkruns often take place on popular paths, these can be trodden and packed so there is grip to walk, jog or run. Lots of local councils and cities actively maintain the paths too.
parkrunning in the cold can be extremely rewarding and liberating, it’s also a safe and fun way to get active during the colder seasons.
It’s important, as with any activity that takes place outdoors in winter, that all participants are suitably prepared. Make sure you get anything you need ready the night before, and that you have good socks and gloves. It’s always worth having some extra layers to put on after you’ve finished walking, jogging, running or volunteering too. And, we would absolutely recommend warming up with a hot drink afterwards.
If you are someone who would class yourself as a “fair weather parkrunner” the prospect of parkrunning throughout the winter months might not seem overly appealing…
There may be moments when you are out in the rain and snow, still with two more laps to go and wondering “why am I doing this?!” – but there are some really simple ways to boost your motivation before or during your cold weather parkrun.
For example, you could:
parkrun can really make you feel warm all year round.
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