Winter has been mild in Copenhagen. The temperature has been hovering just above freezing for what seems like months: always cold, never cold enough for snow. Until yesterday.
When I picked up my oldest son from school to take him to capoeira (yes, I remembered!) big snow flakes were falling from the sky just like you want them do to on christmas eve. It wasn’t freezing, but it was damn close, and most of the snow flakes managed to cling on to the ground long enough to make a snowy carpet in our street. My feet started itching.
When we got home at 17, the cargo bike begged for winter tyres, but I had other worries — and besides, we don’t have any winter tyres for any of our bikes. At 18, I had to pick up our youngest son from a friend. I had one hour to de-itch my feet.
Ever since I started running barefoot, snow has been my nemesis. An alluring nemesis, I have seen pictures of people running barefoot in ankle-deep snow, and it has always made me want to try it, but I have never dared. It’s cold! And for long as I can remember, I have been the cold one, the one with an extra sweater, the one who prefers to wear his jacket even indoors. Running in snow has always seemed like magic.
But when you see magic, you want to master it yourself.
Last year, I ran 4 kilometers in -5C in Prague, but on bare tarmac, with no snow and only a few small patches of ice. It gave me a blood blister, but it wasn’t excruciatingly cold. I wanted to run in snow later, but that turned out to be the last cold spell of winter before spring arrived with as much fanfare as a Czech spring can muster.
This year, I have been part of the winter challenge at the Barefoot Runners Society, but only sort of, as all my runs (save one in the aftermath of a storm) have been above freezing, even with windchill. 5 kilometers in 4C is not as impressive as 5 kilometers in -2C. But the Copenhagen weather hasn’t been good to me in that regard.
I had one hour. I changed into my running gear and called my wife. Dear, I said (kjære in Norwegian — Norwegians don’t use it that much, it’s a bit over the top for us), Dear, could you take a picture of me running in the snow? I need it for an article I have written.
(I didn’t lie. I have in fact written an article for Kondis about barefoot running in the cold.)
As we went out the door, my wife in her winter jacket and me in bare feet, a neighbour almost fell off her bike, the tracks from her bike suddenly meandering in the snow.
It was too dark to get a good picture, and too much snow in the air. I ran a few meters, my wife told me to run back, but the camera got confused by the falling snowflakes and never got me into focus. I stopped beneath a light, she took a few pictures of my feet, but the lens was a 85 mm, and I had to squat to get a picture of my head and feet at the same time. She took one picture and hurried inside, she was cold.
I ran one kilometer, back and forth in our street, as I knew there was lots of salt out in the main street, and I have heard many horror stories about salt and bare feet. After one kilometer, and fifteen minutes out in the snow, I had to go back in. I still was a son short, and to send my wife out in this weather to walk a kilometer and back with a snow ball throwing three-year old — she’s very pregnant, after all.
When I got in, my feet tingled, but they were not very cold. That is, except for one area: on my left big toe, where I use sports tape. In other words, next time I run in snow, I need have completely bare feet, otherwise I’ll be too cold…
When I got back home with the youngest son one hour later and sat down to look at the pictures, I saw that I had closed my eyes on the one picture where they could have been visible. Probably not good enough for the article, then. Oh well. At least I have proof. And I have completed one of the curiosity tasks (there are several to choose from here, but I’ll take Try things that challenge your existing knowledge and skills. It was my first proper snow run, after all.)