Preparing for a race like Grandma’s Marathon requires a commitment to training throughout the winter. Runners can use treadmills in fitness centers and their basements, but hundreds of miles of stationary running can be mind numbing.
Twin cities runners are a hardy bunch. No matter how much snow falls, how hard the wind blows or how fast the mercury in the temperature gauge falls runners hit Minneapolis' trails every day.
The Polar Vortex that hovered over the Twin Cities in early January and pushed temperatures below zero for 9 straight days caked eyebrows and beards with ice crystals, but didn’t stop runners from heading out.
Marathon Sports hosts a running group every Tuesday night, no matter the weather. John Long, the store’s owner, launched the Wing Foot Club to support winter runners. “We wanted to support people who were hardy enough to run after work in cold temperatures,” says Long. “When it got really cold we didn’t cancel. We ran in -10 below temperatures. Our staff runs with the group and make sure they are running safer and comfortable.”
Leaving the store around 6:30, a collection of 20-30 runners split up based on pace and preferred distance. Located just a few blocks away from the Minneapolis Chain of Lakes running paths, the groups can choose from 3 or 7 mile loops. Since the Minneapolis Park Service plows the trails after every measurable snow, runners don’t have to worry about their footing. “We live in heaven when it comes to our trail system,” says Long. “We have miles and miles of trails to explore.”
Long and his staff work with brands like Asics, New Balance and SuperFeet to add some energy to the Tuesday evening runs. Beverages, snacks and drawings for free product help runners forget cold fingers and wind-pinched faces.
Most runners come prepared for the conditions but Long and his staff offer advice and suggestions for layering, technical shells, facemasks and gloves. “ Wearing a lightweight shell with a layering piece you can be stay warm,” says Long. “You can dress much lighter than you expect in the cold and still stay comfortable.”
Runners who regularly attend the Tuesday night events receive a special Winged Foot T-shirt.
When miles and miles of dreadmill drudgery get you down, head over to Marathon Sports on Tuesday night and join the Winged Foot club. At least you can suffer with friends.
This Friday (January 31, 2014) Marathon Sports will host Brooks Launch Event January 31st, 10pm.
Marathon Sports is hosting a special event in January 31st to celebrate the launch of the new Brooks Running Transcend shoe. Starting at 10pm with a group run around the Lake Harriet the event includes demonstration of Brooks Night-Life running apparel and the newest running shoe model. Food and locally brewed beverage will be waiting for you when you return from the run.
Drawings for free gifts will be held every 15 minutes from 11pm until 12am. Be one of the first runners in Minnesota to try on a pair of Brook’s Transcends.