my winter runs need to get a grip

Sunday Run Day and for the first time in two months I took part in a group run with a small cohort of friends.

Our locality has been on pandemic-related lockdown since late November, and all my runs have been solo. But COVID-related hospitalizations have been down. New case numbers have been declining. And the doctors say we can ease gently away from some of the stricter restrictions… like avoiding all non-essential personal contact. In other words, we can run together again.

Of course, it also happens to be that we are in the middle of winter. In the middle of a cold snap. In the middle of temperatures averaging minus twenty and offering up moderate quantities of snow.

Over a series of early morning text messages we pushed our usual eight-thirty meetup time by a couple hours to tempt the sun’s generosity. Also, given that it’s been months since we’ve seen each other in person, it was decided that a location more interesting than the regular high school parking lot was on the table for debate.

Luckily I never take my grips out of the backseat of my truck in the winter, and when we converged in a river valley parking lot to engage the single-track snow-bound trails therein I easily added some necessary traction to my street sneakers.

Some winters I splurge and buy myself winter trainers. They are extra grippy and have a bit more insulation. It makes it necessary to get out into the rough for longer, colder runs for a season or two … y’know, to justify the cost.

But in a pinch, a pair of, wrap-on traction grips will substitute.

We ran.

Into the trails.

Across a bridge.

Into a meadow.

Up and down, left and right.

Between towering poplar dusted with snow.

Eight kilometers later, twisting and turning through trail packed by a hundred other feets and a few dozen fat-bike tires, threaded between fresh knee-deep snow, we had logged the first group run of 2021.

I missed those.