Too Cold for Penguins but Not for Cochrane Runners and Walkers

Posted by martin.parnell |
Too Cold for Penguins but Not for Cochrane Runners and Walkers

Sunday, December 31st was scheduled for my 8th Annual Run / Walk. This event had never been cancelled but the weather the week leading up to the event had been brutal and the forecast for that day was -32C. Oh boy. 

The day before, I asked Paddy, Operations Manager at the Spray Lake Sawmills Family Sport Centre, if he had any thoughts for a back-up plan. He kindly offered to let people use the indoor track, free of charge, instead of going outside. Great idea. 

So, I sent out postings and emails letting as many people as possible know that it was still a go. I had my fingers crossed that the weather would break and warm up. No such luck. Sunday morning I was up at 5.30am and checked the current temperature. It was -48C with the wind chill. Not good. 

On reaching the Center, my first task was to mark the route by spray-painting orange arrows.  Every 30 seconds the nozzle to the spray can froze and I had to keep going back to the car and unfreezing it. At one point I was driving along the side of the path and spraying the arrows from inside the car.

This year we were attempting to raise $5,000 for Free to Run, an organization that uses sport to empower and educate women and girls from conflict-affected communities. The money would enable them to build an ice skating rink for girls in Afghanistan and also allow a group of girls from other provinces to participate in a week of winter sporting activities, in March. 

Soon, 9.00am came around and a hardy group lined up at the start, outside the main entrance. I blew my whistle and away we went. The route took us around the building, through the Bow River Edge camp ground, along the Bow river pathway and down to the old bridge which was the turnaround spot. One loop is around 2.5 kms and in the first hour I managed to cover 4 loops. By this time, my hat and facemask were caked with ice and snow. After a short break I headed out again and was joined by a few more run / walkers. 

Leanne Brintnell, from Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan, had arrived and was organizing the band HYMN, who would entertain everyone with some beautiful traditional music. She would also be selling products made by women in Afghanistan. 

The day wound on with runners coming and going. Everyone doing their part and, by making donations, they were also making a difference. At 2.40pm it was time to do the final 2km, “Cookie Loop”. A bunch of kids lined up and I blew the final whistle and away we went. Twenty minutes later it was done. The kids got their medal, we packed up and everyone headed home. 

In total there were 65 participants, 30 of which were brave enough to run/walk outside. We raised an amazing $2,936.  We still a have way to go to reach the $5,000, so if you would like to donate to this worthy cause and  help us reach our goal then please go to and hit the big “DONATE” button. Thank you. 

I later checked the Globe and Mail website and read a story about how the King Penguins, at the Calgary Zoo, were brought inside due to the extreme cold and the headline in today’s Calgary Herald online reflected this. It read “Cochrane runners go where Penguins fear to tread”.

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