I Run a Triathalon Every Time I Run


With that kind of title, this better be good. Well, it isn’t “good”, its brutal.  As in the conditions that we of the “four distinct seasons” (Sweaty, Dusty, Freezing, and Slushy) must run in if we want to run outside.  Currently, if you don’t have a calendar handy, we are in late Freezing and slowly moving into Slushy.

I just came in from my second run since a flu/cold nailed my shoes to the back door carpet.  We are currently experiencing below zero temperatures from 7p until 8a and above zero temperatures during the day.  Melt.  Freeze.  Melt.  Freeze…you get the picture.  Not only do you have the experience of running on bare sure-footed traction side walks, you get the added excitement of seeing a fresh, flat, gleaming, and traction-less, sheet of ice the exact width of the same side-walk you were just promoting as wonderful.  It’s bad enough waiting for the weather channel to give you the forecast and wind conditions to help you dress, now you must have the dexterity of a cat (the added lives don’t hurt either) just to get down the road.

I did, however, mention a “triathlon”.  That standard of toughness and endurance.  Swim for twenty leagues and three knots, bike for a thousand kilometers, then run a marathon like the day so far was a warm up.  I’ve seen it on TV…piece of cake.  Come run in my world…the real triathlon (note the lack of capitalization due to my fear of actually upsetting those that really run those things).  The triathlon I run every other morning or so, and every walking or bus riding commuter must endure, is this: Walk on clear pavement, tip toe over ice/through slush (depending on time of day) and….wait for it…over a substance I call “sandcrete”.

Wind-row of "sandcrete"captured by the Edmonton Sun
Wind-row of “sandcrete” captured by Laura Pedersen/Edmonton Sun

Sandcrete is the mixture of road sand, a little salt, dirt, debris and snow packed by the melt and freeze process this bear frozen wasteland can only deliver.  No you won’t find sandcrete in Egypt, France…nope not even in the Alps, Sweden (too clean and efficient), or Russia.  Well maybe Russia.  Moscow….maybe.  What happens is this mixture gets tossed to the side of roads and builds up as the wind-rows are created by the graders.  The crusty top is like what you would see at the foot of a volcano…cooled lava rock.  It looks porous but it’s solid, you can walk or run on it as an alternative to running on the sheer ice gently dusted with a bit of blown snow, just for good measure.  Sandcrete is alive, too.  Sometimes it wants you to run on it.  And sometimes it doesn’t.  When it’s in a bad, or melting, mood, it lets you plunge to the bottom of the drift you now find yourself in.  Now you’re either high-stepping like an american football running back through falling blockers or you’re planted and wondering where to go next.  It’s not fun, but it’s getting there that’s the adventure.  Then, if the sandcrete is solid, you can always navigate it by looking no more than one meter in front of you to ensure you don’t trip on the jagged edges that wait for your mis-step and cut up like no bike fall could ever inflict.

Yes it’s a triathlon, a triathlon of traction, without the bother of distance or time, but all excitement.  I would call it a sport worth watching in between curling and golf but instead I’ll call it: Wednesday morning.

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