Great Lakes Running

Ice Running on Georgian Bay

I had the unusual pleasure of running on thick ice for 12 kilometres on Georgian Bay several weeks ago! It’s normally one of my favorite kayak routes more suited to my 14 foot Necky kayak but lately with a record breaking 90% of the great lakes covered in ice it’s been trail running shoes. The sensation is very calm and can be slightly unsettling when you come to the clear parts. You can see thick cracks in the ice which act as telltales so you can gauge the thickness of the ice. I would estimate that it’s 8″ to 12″ thick for most of the run. Still, it’s quite strange to see the rocks on the bottom of the water under the ice and the water. It feels like running on water.

Nottawasaga Island Lighthouse
Nottawasaga Island Lighthouse

It’s a good idea to keep a few ideas in mind if you ever attempt it.

1. Be sure to know the thickness of the ice. Never attempt it unless you know for sure that the conditions warrant it and always be sure that the weather hasn’t warmed up or changed drastically. Conditions can change rapidly.

2. Run close to shore and/or over water that’s shallow. Ideally not over your chest in depth. Then you can not only climb out of your hole, but can make it to shore to get warmed up. Try to be running near civilization as well just in case!

3. Wear some sort of trail shoes and maybe invest in YakTrax which you can attach to your shoes that prevent slipping on ice.

4. Tell someone how long and far you are going so you can be rescued if need be.

This probably sounds like those pharmaceutical ads on TV where they say how great the product is but they then proceed to tell you how many horrible side effects it has. Really though it’s just common sense precautions to make sure it stays the amazing, enjoyable experience you want to have.

I also recommend bringing an iPhone or other mobile phone with an arm holster to not only record your run on Strava so you know your time/distance etc. but to take some pictures along the way! Enjoy and happy trails!

Beautiful Sunny Day on Georgian Bay
Beautiful Sunny Day on Georgian Bay


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