Treading on thin ice

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While most people are trying to stay indoors to avoid the bitter cold and horrible air quality, Utah County resident Arianne Brown decided that she had been inside long enough.

Brown went online to Utahlake.gov and found an article that motivated her to find things to do at Utah Lake. When she saw the suggestion of exercising not by the lake but on the lake, she was shocked. Her running partner, had done it before, and invited Brown to go with her.

Arianne Brown felt a little too cooped up this winter and decided running across Utah Lake was a great way to stay fit in the cold. Photo courtesy Arianne Brown

“I had a few hesitations about running on the lake,” admitted Brown.

“First of all, the fact that it was a body of water caused me to be nervous. You hear stories about people falling through ice, and that is of course a big thing to think about,” Brown said.

“Then there was the thought about slipping, as well as the fact that there are no marked paths, and I am one who gets lost easily.”

Brown’s friend was able to put screws on the bottom of her shoes, giving her more traction on the icy lake. They started their run at 6:00 a.m., just before the sun came up.

“Going at the coldest time of day put our minds at ease that we were there at the time when things would be most solid,” said Brown.

Brown and her friends ran 14 miles that day. Lucky for her, the fear wore off after the first mile, and the whole run was “awesome.” Others, however, might not feel that same exhilaration.

Stephanie Blickfeldt, a marriage, family and human development graduate student from Lindon is an avid runner.

“It sounds a little boring to me because everything is white. I like a change of scenery when I run,” she said.

There is also a huge adjustment that would have to be made for running on ice.

“Half of the adjustment just comes from being cautious and half of it is having to adjust to a more flat-footed technique to gain traction. I personally like to run more on my toes, so this would automatically slow me down,” Blickfeldt said.

“I would worry about my knees. … Fourteen miles on ice, ouch. Not much bounce back from that surface. It might be fun to try sometime though,” Blickfeldt added.

Brown wants everyone who has interest in this to experience what she did. In her recommendation, however, she wants to stress how important precautions are. Brown has five kids and her running partner has six. She is not one to take many risks, but felt very safe after the necessary precautions were taken.

“I most definitely would do it again, but I want to emphasize that although this was a great experience, you must use caution. With temperatures warming above freezing, I would be really careful. It is risky, and I don’t want anyone getting hurt. Do your research and take precautions,” Brown said. 

Brown lists five precautions to take before going for a run on the lake:

1. Do your research.

The lake website should post updates on ice thickness, but if it doesn’t, go and cut through a section of the ice yourself. The ice should be at least 3″ thick. This usually happens after days and weeks of temperatures in the below freezing range.

2. Don’t go alone.
As is the case with all risky activities, there is safety in numbers.
3. Dress appropriately.
Ice is cold, so make sure you are covered head to toe in warm clothing. Make sure you layer on in your upper body and chest area, as well as on your extremities. A hat is a must.
4. Get your shoes ice ready.
Ice is also slippery, so you may want to get your shoes ready for the ice, by making a few adjustments. It is best that you do this to an older pair of shoes; once they’re ice shoes, there’s no going back.
5. Use a GPS or compass.
As opposed to running on the road or trails, there are no marked paths on a frozen lake. A GPS or compass will ensure that you make it to your intended destination.
For more information on Arianne and her running adventures, visit her blog at http://runariran.wordpress.com/.
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