Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Polar Bear Dash

I am a runner and I am an idea guy.  Not all my ideas are great ones, let's be honest, some of the really suck, but sometimes I hit on something.  One idea that I had brewing in my mind the past bunch of years involved organizing a race that would take place on New Years Day.

I don't put on races.  Well, I do put on the I Run Kids Marathon but that is not the same as a road race.  In the past few years, I have been fortunate enough to be friends with a few of the makers and shakers in the Milwaukee running community that do put on races.  I was asked 3 years ago to be apart of the Icebreaker Indoor Marathon crew and have learned a lot about what it takes to put on a race.  Chris is the director of that race and we have become good running friends so it was a natural for me to approach him with the new idea I had.  I am not comfortable with putting on a race all by myself so it was nice to hear that Chris was interested in my idea and we have partnered up to make it happen.

Here was my original idea years ago.  Have a race (length not too important) with the finish line about 50 to 100 feet into a lake.  Now that may not seem like a big deal out there in some places like the south, but in Wisconsin, generally it is pretty cold in the winter.  The race would take place on New Year's Day, traditionally pretty cold.  The idea was to finish, you had to "Go for it" and get wet on a cold (or freezing) day.

In talking about the race, we both knew that it would be very hard to get people to run this race if the finish was in the water, plus timing the race would become a real bear (pun intented).  We knew only super die hards would do that and there would be no way to cover all the costs if few people entered.  (if you have never put on a race, there are a ton of expenses most people have no idea about).  We brainstormed and have a race now schedule for New Year's Day 2013 called the Polar Bear Dash.

The Polar Bear Dash is going to be a 5K race in Grant Park in South Milwaukee on January 1st starting at 11:00AM (people can sleep in a little after all the revelry of New Year's Eve).  We have a club house rented for registration and keeping warm before the race (and after too).  At the 3 mile mark of the race, runner will have an option of entered the frigid waters of Lake Michigan and running about 50 meters parallel to the shore in about knee deep water before running to the finish line.  Runners who chicken out can run right next to the water but stay dry.  Runners who do the "Polar Dip" are not required to go all the way in, head to toe, but there will be no way to avoid shoes, feet, ankles, knees and most of the legs from getting wet.  No guarantees the ground under the water is even either so watch out so you don't trip.  The final 50 meters will be out of the water to the parking lot to the finish line. 

We will have the usual overall awards and age group awards but we will also have awards to the top 3 males and females that get out of the water.  After the race, runners can go full in the water if the choose (we will have a cold water rescue team there) or head to the heated club house for post race refreshments and the awards ceremony. 

As of earlier this week, we had about 120 runners already signed up with almost half saying they planned on doing the Polar Dip portion of the race. With registration still open and race day registration available as well, we hope to get 200 runners.  After the Polar Bear Dash is complete, only 2 1/2 weeks until the Icebreaker Indoor Marathon.

If you are interested in joining the Polar Bear Dash or would just like more information, you can go to our website

That is my latest running project.  I do have some more ideas that i am formulation through that involve races so who know, there may be more I put on.

Keep on Running!!!

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