It wasn’t just cold, it was freakin’ cold.
Forgive the language, but if you attended the 25th-annual “Freeze Yer Gizzard Blizzard Run” at Rainy River Community College in International Falls on Saturday afternoon, then you probably would have been using language much cruder than that.
“Why? It’s probably the same question a lot of runners get when they run in the summer. I don’t know, a friend was going to do it and I just figured it was the thing to do,” replied Ryan Walker of Duluth, Mn. when asked why he took part in the five-km fun run.
The thing to do? Do you realize it’s like minus-40?
“Yeah, but not everyone would do this, so it’s kind of an adventure,” said Walker as his one-time beard was now just a big lump of ice waiting for a hot shower.
“When it’s 30 or 40 below, it’s really just an opportunity that you ran a race at the coldest place on the continent,” added Walker, who finished with a time of 23:51.
Well, not exactly. Actually the coldest place on the continent on Saturday was around minus-70 C in a place called Prospect Creek Camp, which is near the Endicott Mountains of northern Alaska.
But it’s highly unlikely they held any five-km or 10-km runs that day, which begs the obvious question put to the 194 run participants by friends and loved ones: Why? For the love of God, why?
“Why? A sense of accomplishment,” said Lincoln Dunn, 31, of Emo, who initially had entered the 10-km run, but dropped down to the five-km event due to a calf injury.
“I quit smoking about three years ago, almost to the day, and I started working out around six months after that and just kept going,” he added.
Just how cold was it? It was so cold that anyone who has ever used the expression “when hell freezes over” were reaching for their parkas.
“It was a good run today. Nice weather,” smiled Dunn, who finished with a time of 32:06. “It was a little brisk, and a little frosty on the way back.”
“We’re a bit crazy for doing it, but it’s fun and when you’re done, you can go brag about it a little bit,” added Bob Tkachuk, 50, of Fort Frances after completing his eighth “Freeze Yer Gizzard Blizzard Run.”
“Yeah, people tell you that you’re crazy and I go, ‘Yeah, I am,’ but I had a great time.”
A runner’s world is a complex and never satisfied one. While most couch potatoes would ask, “What are they running from?” runners simply ask themselves, “What am I running towards?”
Each race is a different “adventure.” The preparation, the training, and the sacrifices make it all worthwhile once you cross that finish line.
And that finish line never seemed as sweet for Lorne Ricard of Fort Frances after finishing the 10-km run in a time of 43:44, which gave him first place in the 50 and over age category (and only 3:44 off the day’s best time posted by Brandy Erholtz of Duluth).
Suffering from a hereditary condition that caused him to undergo a hip replacement three years ago, Ricard, who had run in 25 marathons over 15 years beforehand, was sidelined from the running world.
But he returned Saturday—and wanted everyone to know he was back.
“I ran for years, and I didn’t think I could run again, so I tried her out and here I am,” a frozen Ricard smiled.
“It’s an addiction. I love to run and that’s why I’m here,” added Ricard, 50, who most likely will not tell his specialist in Winnipeg of his participation.
“I won’t tell him. He’s in Winnipeg, and told me I shouldn’t run, but I feel excellent,” he remarked.
“I’m back. It may not be for a long time, but one at a time,” he said.
Here’s how local runners fared in the “Freeze Yer Gizzard Blizzard Run”:
< *c>Five-km fun run
•Bill Michl (49)—22:00 (overall winner)
•Jan Vassbon (35)—27:52
•Andrea Helkenberg (30)—27:59
•Dan McMahon (29)—28:03
•Stewart Allen, Mine Centre (41)—30:02
•Brenda Ferris-Hyatt, Mine Centre (49)—31:62
•Lincoln Dunn, Emo (31)—32:06
•Bob Tkachuk (50)—32:51
•Mike Davis (34)—34:36
•Jamie Bonany (29)—51:22
•Michelle McMahon (31)—51:23
•Mary-Beth Tkachuk (55)—51:24
< *c>10-km run
•Andrew Friesen, Emo (14)—41:31
•Lorne Ricard (50)—43:44
•Bill Michl (49)—48:32 (Michl competed in both runs)
•Dave Gosman (58)—49:25
•Lavana Fox (40)—53:33
•Armand Jourdain Jr. (49)—53:47
•Struchan Gilson (62)—57:50
•Ed Wierserra (49)—57:55
•Carla Magisano (40)—58:10
It wasn’t just cold, it was freakin’ cold.