High of 19, low of 14. Cloudy. 30 percent chance of snow. This is the forecast for Saturday, a day on which my training plan calls for 15 miles.
Hey, this is warmer than normal these days. We’ll take it–and Sunday may even see sunshine and mid 20s!
So why not mix things up a bit, celebrate this crazy-cold winter we’ve had, and run across parts of Lake Michigan. I mean literally, on top of the ice that’s covering parts of this Great Lake. Sounds fun, right? After all, both West and East Grand Traverse bays have officially frozen over–the first time since 2009–and wouldn’t it be cool to say I’d done this at least once in my life?
A group of Traverse City runners is planning to do just this, and I’ve been pondering joining ever since I received the Facebook invite from a high school friend earlier this week. I’d actually heard about running across both West and East Bay (Old Mission Peninsula sits between these two bays that are part of Lake Michigan) from another runner friend a few days prior to the social media group “Run Across the Bays” forming. A longtime runner and former northern Michigan race director, Dave shared that he and some friends had done this in 2003, another year when the bays had frozen over. “We ran from Cherry Bend, across West Bay, up and over McKinely, and then across East Bay to Acme,” he said, adding that he has his eye on doing it this year and asked if I was interested in doing it, too. “It was pretty cool being out in the middle of it all.”
My initial reaction: yes, I am definitely interested! I’m up for adventures, especially of the running sort. But then, as I thought more about it, I admit to wondering if maybe this would be too dangerous. I mentioned it to Joe, who by now is used to my sometimes-nutty outdoor running ideas, and he replied without missing a beat, “That’s crazy.” He went on to tell me about a guy he knew in high school who fell through the ice on a small inland lake–he was on a snowmobile though, I replied, to which Joe said, “Does it really matter? He still fell through. What if there’s a patch of ice that’s not thick?” In a half-joking, half-serious way, he also sent me a link to an article he’d serendipitously just read: How to Survive Falling Through the Ice, an Illustrated Guide. Thanks, honey.
But Joe, as he always does when it comes to my running plans, did ultimately tell me he supported whatever I wanted to do. This is the man, after all, who I convinced to come along and run into the icy waters of West Bay a couple of years ago on New Year’s Day (and he actually dove under twice!). Ever the joking guy, he added with a smile, “Anyway, your life insurance is all paid up!”
I am thinking maybe it wouldn’t be such a bad idea–sure, there’s a little risk, but we’d be running not far out from the shoreline where the ice would be thicker (at least, that would be my plan), and all told, it would be about 5 miles. I could incorporate the run across the bays into my 15-miler, by logging several miles beforehand and a few afterward.
I’m still pondering. I also would love to have a couple of my close running friends join me, though I’m pretty sure they, too, are in contemplation mode.
So this is where I turn to you all. What would you do? Run across the icy bays? Or opt to stick to (snow-covered) land? Has anyone else ever done this before, either on a Great Lake or an inland lake? If so, what was your experience?