Travel

Man on the run: Making the most of Saskatoon's recreational trails in winter

  • Jan 18, 2014
  • 747 words
  • 3 minutes
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During a Canadian winter like this one, winter running might be best left to the brave or the foolish, but treadmills have always made me feel a lot like a hamster in a cage. With a flurry of marathons staged across the country in April, May and June, Canadian runners have little choice but to train during the coldest months of winter it want to race. Pounding a little bit of ice and snow is inevitable.

During the early weeks of the epic deep freeze that the winter of 2013-14 has been, I hit up Saskatoon’s recreational path system to put some of my favourite running gear to the test in some of the harshest weather that winter in Canada has to offer.

With a darkening sky and a misty wind whipping off of the South Saskatchewan River into the sub-minus 30 twillight, I took to Saskatoon’s Meewasin trail. The elements weren’t exactly co-operating with my fitness regime, but the city of Saskatoon had kindly plowed the recreational paths — take note City of Ottawa — and in spite of the temperatures that were bitter and still falling, a few other brave (or foolish) souls were taking advantage of this waterfront trail that winds its way between the city’s celebrated bridges.

In the solitude of the prairie winter, it tried to imagine the waterfront on a warm summer evening, alive with the sound of prairie drawls echoing across the water. It seemed a long way off of this quiet winter’s moment. I was mostly just thankful that I had the sort of quality outdoor gear that can help me keep active on all but the very coldest days. Here’s my take on some of the gear that kept my cozy on that frigid Saskatoon evening:

Mountain Hardwear Ghost whisperer down jacket — Weighing in at just 212 grams, this ultra lightweight down jacket is as thin a winter jacket as has ever been made. Its 850 fill down allows it to provide warmth while also allowing free movement. When the mercury really drops, I drop my the shell I often run with, and reach for the Ghost Whisperer.

MEC Glide X-country ski gloves – Though not specifically designed with running in mind, these gloves have the right stuff for the job. Thinly insulated, they balance a runner’s needs for warmth when it’s cold, and venting body heat once you’re hot and sweaty. The neoprene in these gloves means that even once they’re wet they do a pretty good job of keeping you warm. On the very coldest days, you’ll probably want a warmer pair, but through most of the winter, these will serve you well.

Beardo Rottweiler face warmer — Usually, my gear picks revolve around equipment’s functionality and value, but Beardo has wons me over with its Rottweiler facemask. There are a lots of face warmers out there that are similarly functional, but non of them make you look like a big, slobbery guard dog.

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MEC Mercury running tights – I lean heavily on Mountain Equipment Co-op for my running clothing. As with many of their product lines, the value for money is pretty tough to beat. These insulated tights cut the wind, and help keep your legs warm and your muscles loose on cold winter’s days.

Sport Rx Oakley sunglasses— When temperatures are hovering a few dozen degrees below freezing and the wind’s howling, you need something to help keep your eyes dry. Even behind sunglasses, contacts get uncomfortable in extreme temperatures. Most prescription sunglasses can’t handle the dim light of the northern winter during the darkest months. It was a problem that seemed intractable. I’d resigned myself to tears freezing on my cheeks until I came across California based prescription sunglasses maker Sport Rx. They set me up with a pair of Oakleys that handle low lighting conditions effortlessly, and look fresh as they’re doing it.

Mountain Hardwear DryQ Elite jacket – When winter weather’s on the warmer side, and all that I need is a shell over my base layer, I need a breathable jacket to vent out excess body heat. I turn to Mountain Hardwear’s DryQ technology. It’s waterproof and breathable. DryQ Elite performs like Gore-tex, but with a much more affordable price tag.

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