17 Dec

Cool Runnings

runner in the snow

Are you dreaming of a White Christmas? Who doesn’t love the sprinkling of some snowflakes and a brilliant white outlook on Christmas morning? Most of us probably have an Uncle Scrooge who immediately springs to mind. But for the rest of us, it’s the perfect decoration for the season.

It must be the runner in me; but when the first flakes fall, my first thoughts are not about building a snowman or an impromptu snowball fight. Instead, I begin to ponder on the possibilities of a snowy run. Is there anything more invigorating than running in the snow?

The crunch underfoot, the clean freshness of the air, the cooling sprinkle of snowflakes on your face…it brings out the inner author in me, as much as the runner. Of course, it’s not everyone’s taste and there are valid safety reasons for avoiding the snow - particularly if it’s icy underfoot.

There are certainly no PBs to be harvested in the depth of a snowy winter. But the few races I have taken part with snowy conditions have lingered long in the memory. One was a particularly white cross country race in the Scottish Borders, where a slushy pathway carved its way through the snow covered fields and a frosty forest.

Another was a multi-terrain Christmas race in North Devon where a fresh blanket of snow before the race meant planting virgin footprints across the course and cracking the iced surface of numerous puddles. Races and snow are great for the senses and the soul.

Race directors, understandably bound by red tape, cannot be so laissez-fair . On one infamous occasion at the 2009 British Universities Cross Country Championships in Aberdeen (where else?), a snowstorm forced the cancellation of the event.

But, the students were not to be denied their moment in the er…snow and ran an unofficial, unapproved and unashamedly joyful race of their own. I get that.

Tis the season to be jolly and – hopefully with a sprinkling of snow – tis the season to be running too.

Image courtesy Michael Bielecki