BEMIDJI -- It’s a bit too early in the season for Frosty the Snowman to arrive, but if weather predictions are correct, he’ll be ‘thumpety thump thumping’ along with Bemidji Blue Ox Marathon participants this weekend.
With threats of a "powerful storm system” bringing accumulating snow to the Plains and Upper Midwest late into the week and through the weekend, organizers of the annual racing event are putting precautionary plans in place.
According to a post on the Bemidji Blue Ox Marathon’s Facebook page, participants registered for the Full Marathon can now choose to run the 26K race instead. This would give leniency to those who feel like weather conditions may slow them down beyond the six-hour mark.
“Because we also have to be concerned with the volunteers out in the weather, we are not able to extend the length of the race, so 3 p.m. will still be the closing time of the course,” the post said.
But for runners like Jim Barta, changing from Full Marathon to 26K is not a decision to be taken lightly.
“That would be my very last option,” Barta said. “I think for me and a lot of runners, a problem would be that we’ve trained this long. I put in a lot of time and training, and I just want to see it through.”
At packet pick-up, marathon runners should decide which race they feel most confident participating in given the weather conditions.
Those who choose to switch to the 26K will still wear the Full Marathon bib, but it will be marked so course helpers recognize the change. These runners will also still get the Full Marathon medal.
However, the Blue Ox Marathon is unable to provide deferrals to another year’s race because of weather predictions. If cancellations do occur, registrants will be given a credit for a future race.
“This isn't the weather that any of us hoped for,” the post said. “When we call our event 'The Northland's most colorful race,' we don't mean white.”
When it comes to running this weekend, Barta said the weather may be questionable, but there’s hope that everything will turnout fine.
“The only thing I’m worried about is if there’s going to be inches of snow because it’d be hard with footing if we have to crunch through a lot of snow,” Barta said. “But I think that with this being the first snow of the season, the temperatures are still going to be fairly mild. Once you start running in the high 20s to 30s, you’re gonna warm up.”
Participating in the Blue Ox Marathon? Here’s some tips for running in wintry weather:
Wear the right shoes. Avoid shoes with a lot of mesh and wear socks that wick away moisture but keep feet warm.
Have proper form. Keep strides small but take quicker steps to avoid slipping.
Dress like it’s warm. Don’t overdress because sweating can make you catch a chill. A good rule of thumb is to dress as if the temperature is 10 to 20 degrees warmer.
Vaseline. Rub it on exposed skin for protection against the cold. It’s water-resistant and will help keep you warm if it’s windy.
Warm up prerun. Do a few light exercises inside to get blood flowing because the cold doesn’t feel so bad when you’re warm.
If you go:
What: Bemidji Blue Ox Marathon
When: Friday, Oct. 11; Saturday, Oct. 12
Where: Sanford Center, 1111 Event Center Drive NE