Say what you want about Canada being a great country, (despite the usual problems, it really is) does anyone actually get amped up when the weather is as cold as it’s been lately? I might have even said it on here before but I do think cold weather running is really underrated. As opposed to running in the summer where you start out normal and get really hot once you get into it, the winter is nice because even when it’s 20 below outside and you put a couple of layers on, you’re good to go. Once you shake off the cold start and warm up, its really quite nice. So that being said, it’s still tougher to get the motivation up when you look at your phone and see that it’s -40 with the wind chill outside. The redeeming factor at play here, though is that anyone out for a few kms in weather like this is rewarded with a head encased in ice, which just looks cool.
So anyways, Kari-Anne Crockford, a master bombardier who was in my artillery unit a long time ago had mentioned to me on one occasion that no matter what’s happening in your life and no matter how bad things can seem at times, there is always someone else out there who’s world is a whole lot worse. It’s funny the things you hold on to, those little tidbits that don’t get buried deep inside your brain and lost forever like, in my case, where I set my car keys or where I last had my wallet. Her message was simple and certainly true (except in the case of that one guy who’s problems are actually the worst). I was thinking about this last week when the wind chill was around -40 and I forgot to bring an extra pair of cotton tube socks with me when I drove out to the neighborhood of Laurel to complete another section of Edmonton city streets. I usually wear a pair of running gloves and then double up with the cotton socks as an extra layer. The added bonus is that I don’t get my good gloves all snotty and gross…it’s a lot easier to toss cotton socks in the laundry than my gloves. Current featured runner, Michael Markowski gave me that tip years ago and I still use it.
Either way, I was 5 kms into my run and my thumb and fingers on my left hand were frozen solid and it was getting a bit uncomfortable. All I had to do was think about anyone competing in the Yukon Arctic Ultra going on at the moment and my mindset improved. I put up with the weather for another 6 or 7 k or and then ran back to my truck with my tail between my legs and went home and had a hot shower. Life was good again! In case you’re wondering what the Yukon Arctic Ultra is and why my 12k run in -30 was simple in comparison, check out the link at the bottom of this post and there is some info on the race. To give you the Coles Notes version, though, this year it’s up to a 430 mile race that starts in Whitehorse with the furthest distance going all the way to Dawson City following the Yukon Quest dogsled trail. Competitors have the option to complete the course on foot, bike, or cross country ski. Being a self sufficient style race, competitors must carry all of their supplies for the duration of their race.
Racers from around the world gather to compete and competitors often lose toes or fingers to frostbite. An Italian athlete in 2018 lost both feet and 9 fingers after suffering the effects of hypothermia and was found wandering around confused and not wearing any gloves or boots about halfway into the race. That same year Nick Griffiths, a British athlete, couldn’t keep his feet warm enough in his sleeping bag and as a result lost three toes to frostbite. Griffiths later downed a sour toe cocktail in Dawson City, which isn’t totally unusual by itself since many tourists partake in the popular drink. It involves shooting back Yukon Jack whiskey with a severed human toe in your glass (I’ve done it…I didn’t find it as revolting as I thought I would. I recommend the tradition if you’re ever up there.). The difference in Griffith’s case is that he drank the Sourtoe Cocktail with his own donated severed toe in the glass. Awesome. That link in case you are interested is http://www.arcticultra.de … maybe you want to give it a shot next year.
Take it easy everyone,