GRAND FORKS, ND, December 2007-Winter can be fun, and winter sports have never been more popular. Children anticipate "snow days," when they can skip school and build snowmen in the yard, or look forward to sledding on local hills. The white sparkle of snow reminds people of simpler times, bringing back fond memories of bundling up to go out, and coming inside to warm up with hot cocoa after playing in the cold. Along with the nostalgia, however, comes the very real threat of icy sidewalks and parking lots. For many people, just the thought of going about daily business in wintertime causes anxiety. Running errands, walking the dog, taking out the garbage, even checking the mailbox all become opportunities for injury, which increases for those who must work outdoors all year round. Seniors, delivery drivers, fitness runners/walkers, construction workers, and winter sports enthusiasts are only a few examples of people who are affected by icy conditions.
Fortunately, the risk can be minimized and people can confidently reclaim the winter with DueNorth winter traction aids from Sure Foot® Corporation. DueNorth winter traction aids are available in three styles: Everyday, All Purpose, and All Purpose Oversized. According to Jon Larson, president of Sure Foot, "People are able to decide which product is better for their needs, depending on how they plan to use them." All three DueNorth winter traction products are designed for the ultimate in safety and convenience. All are made of a durable rubber compound that is formulated to retain elasticity and fit in all temperatures. All feature ice-piercing Ice DiamondTM tungsten carbide spikes for superior winter traction- and since the spikes are replaceable, DueNorth winter traction aids will always perform as well as the day they are purchased.
Recent forecasts predict a return to cold temperatures and snowy weather this winter with statements like "coldest in five years and snowiest in seven". Even after the plows and snow blowers have run, the winter sun and recurring freeze-thaw cycles create a new set of problems. The ice left after a melt and re-freeze is usually much slicker than compacted snow, creating greater potential for slips and falls and the need for improved traction.
Why continue to feel like crawling is the only way to get to the mailbox or across the parking lot? Why let fear prevent you from doing what you want to do when there is a simple way to help prevent injury? Get the confidence you need from DueNorth winter traction aids. Reclaim the winter!
Due North by Sure Foot corporation is one of our winter triathlon sponsors this year and in the lead-up to the race they sent me some of their stuff to try out and asked for some feedback. I told them i'd oblige but wouldn't pull any punches. Here's my take on the three products they provided a 'foot rubz' massage ball and two pair of their traction aids (Everyday and All Purpose).
Foot Rubz: my kids liked these immediately - golfball sized green hard rubber balls with hundreds of little knobs on them. They wanted to throw them around and did so immediately. Luckily they didn't seem to mark the floors, though i'm not guaranteeing this. Keegan was disappointed when they didn't bounce off of AJ and AJ was disappointed that they were so hard when they hit him before dropping straight to the floor. I quickly classified the Rubz as 'hard things' and reminded the boys of our 'no throwing hard things in the house rule' and then confiscated the balls to see how they performed the function for which they were intended. I'll have to admit i was skeptical - i've never had much success with the whole self massage industry - but ended up being pleasantly surprised. Although later experimentation on tammy revealed that they aren't any better than a regular golf ball when it comes to massaging other parts of your body - they worked awesome on my feet. I've taken to using them first thing in the morning - rolling them up and down my sole and under my toes - they feel great and seem to immediately increase the circulation to my feet - something that i've also notice to be effective when my feet are a bit chilly. Have no idea on the retail price, so i won't comment on the value - but overall i liked the Rubz - simple, indestructible, and pretty effective at doing what they claim to.
Traction aids: Keegan liked these too and when he found out Due North had sent some in his size begged to go try them out. Out he went into minus 10 degree weather to run up and down the sidewalk. He came in to report that they were 'super' and that i should go try mine. Although it was just after lunch time i was still in my pajamas and had no intention to go outside, so resorted to trying them on over my running shoes on our welcome mat. They went on easily and seemed as though they'd stay put while jogging or running. I didn't notice any pinching or pushing on my toes like i do in my yak trax, so that was cool - but not enough to inspire me to go out and test them.
This weekend though i finally got the chance. I was at my in-laws cabin in minnesota and the drive going to thier place was still covered with hard-packed glazed snow. I decided to do a shuttle run time trial without and then with the spikes to see if there was a noticable difference. To help ensure the results i decided to run without the aids first when i was freshest - reasoning that if my second time was faster i could chalk it up to the added traction. I grabbed my hiking boots and with my father in law timing, sprinted about 50 yards out and then back, clocking in at just over 25 seconds. then i put on the Everyday model (the only bummer was having to sit down in the snow to put them on - this was easy to do but not while standing up), and did it again - feeling out of breath but still coming across the line in just under 22 seconds. Now this is hardly science, so i'm not making any claims, but there you go. I was pushing hard and digging in, screeching to a halt at the far end of the run and the traction aids stayed put right where they should. i didn't really notice them at all . I'd be interested to try this same thing out on a variety of different surfaces but that will be left to another day - it's clear to me that they'd work as promised under the conditions that i'd be most likely to use them - on ice or super hard snow.
I was out on all sections of the course today and wanted to give folks an idea of what to expect, as it looks as though all legs are going to be slightly different than the initial maps show - updated maps should be up by monday.
SKI - it looks like there is still enough snow to keep the ski course more or less intact, with only a few minor changes to the route to avoid bare spots. it may be a bit icy if we don't get more snow, but the inch we received the last day or two helped just enough. The one section that will likely be unskiable (or difficult enough not to warrant using skis) will be an approximately 100 meter section just after crossing Lincoln park drive and before getting to the groomed track that runs along the greenway bike path. It is likely that we will create a 'ski free zone' here, a place where racers are allowed to proceed without their skis, so long as they put them back on before leaving the zone. Racers will pass through this area on the way out and on the way back. There is a slight chance we'll be able to find a way through this section with the help of a groomer, but based on what i saw today i just thought i'd give skiers the heads up so that if you find it difficult to remove and put on your skis, you have a chance to practice a bit before race day.
BIKE - There are significant changes to the bike course. The bike path is now plowed and runs cleanly under the Demers bridge, so cyclists will simply follow it north cleanly without any need to jump off their bike and run under the bridge. You'll take the bike path all the way past gateway bridge until you see the chute guiding you to the snowmobile trail. the course will proceed as shown on the original map until you cross the pedestrian bridge where it will turn onto the snowmobile trail once again. you will now take the snowmobile trail almost ALL the way Demers bridge, following the chute to rejoin the bike path just before the bridge. Cross the bridge on the north side walk (you will never have to cross a street on the bike course!), turning right immediately after leaving the bridge and heading down the stairs (walking or riding your bike as necessary - we had folks riding it easily during the preride today, but some may find it challenging - it's only about 100 feet however) to rejoin the bike path and proceed back to lincoln park the way you came. The overall length is pretty much unchanged, but instead of three quarters of a mile of snowmobile trail, there is about 2.5. The reason is two fold - 1) the trails are in ideal condition and so much fun- extremely hard - great riding for just regular old mountain bikes. sure they're a bit more difficult than riding pavement, but the difference is similar to the difference between pavement and gravel road, rather than pavement and sand (which is how it can feel with softer snow); 2) the bike path has lots of ice patches. some of these aren't bad - short sections on straight aways - but there are several longer sections. The worst of these will be well marked with and/or have volunteers warning bikers to slow down and/or have flagged routes around them. however there is still the possibility of falling. by using the snowmobile trail which is in great condition, we allow racers a longer section on which to push hard without having to worry about ice. If it's anything like it was today, we're hopeful that the trail sections will be a highlight of the race.
RUN - the run is pretty much as shown on the run map as well with the following minor changes: 1) there will be a very short scramble up and down a 'snow mountain' just after crossing lincoln park drive and 2) the run on top of the dike continues south for about a sixth of a mile or so from where the initial map shows it rejoining the bike path. the running on top of the dike is great - good footing, great view of the greenway! we advise runners to use caution on the bike path portion of the run as there are several sections of sheet ice that offers NO traction. Running on the grass immediately adjacent to the bike path will be allowed and may offer better traction, or pick up some slip on traction aids from Due North by Sure Foot Corporation and the ice shouldn't be a problem. The snow mobile portion is quite hard and fast, but has some uneven spots and feels alot like trail running. The total run distance was measured via GPS today and comes in at just a hundredth or two over 3 miles.