Too Cold to Run? Not for Central Park’s Runners

A pack of runners hits the pavement in New York City's Central Park despite the blustery weather. (Lucia De Stefani/NY City Lens)

A pack of runners hits the pavement in New York City’s Central Park despite the blustery weather. (Lucia De Stefani/NY City Lens)

Brad Yee hopped up and down to stay warm Saturday morning in Central Park. He said he couldn’t feel the cold, thanks to his outfit — a very tight thermal shirt and extremely snug black leotards. “But the gloves are the most important thing,” he said, as he stretched his body on a bench after his morning run in the frigid weather. “I have no regrets. It feels so good.”

It was a particularly cold Saturday morning in the city with temperatures in the 20s, but many fearless athletes, like Yee, did not give up their exercise routine. Most of them dressed for the temperatures with fleece hats, thermal sweaters, tight pants, and wool socks: the armor of intrepid runners.

“The cold temperature doesn’t scares us,” said Scott Wisniewski, who was running with his college friend Fred Griev as they do every weekend. “We are from New Hampshire, we are used to the cold.” Just this week, the thermometer there reached 3 degrees.

But even this bold duo agreed that their ritual run in the cold had its drawbacks. “You have all these clothes on,” said Griev. “It makes it so much harder to move.”

The cold weather, and the extra clothes, barely slowed down Katherine Van Itallie, however, who finished her run in one hour and 10 minutes. “You can run until it hits zero degrees,” she said, adding that the wind is the worst part. “When it’s particularly cold, I cover my neck all around,” she said, tightening up the zip of her salmon cashmere sweater, making sure that no draft could penetrate.

Runners on Saturday in Central Park wore a variety of colorful sport garments to stay warm, transforming the athletic tracks in the park into a sporty fashion show. On the runway: Heattech T-shirts, fleece sweatshirts, multiple wind jackets, blanket-like scarves, furry earmuffs, double fleece hats, furry hoods, tight leotards, wool knee socks and fleece pants. In a rainbow of colors.

And as the joggers start to warm up, and their bodies begin to sweat, the sport clothes get rearranged: the anoraks become fluttering skirts tied tightly at the waist; the scarves are converted into belts; the wool balaclavas now stick out of pant’s pockets.

Some die-hard runners and professional coaches think the extra layers are in fact superfluous.

“You don’t need to dress too much, because then you start sweating,” said Rebecca Burkat, a professional running coach. “But, you can’t dress light either, because once you stop, you freeze.”

Burkat, came to the park Saturday morning to train runners for the New York half marathon, scheduled on March 16th. To her surprise, only one of the 52 participants showed up, Amy Roesler, who completed her training session with no complaints. “It wasn’t that bad after all,” she said.

During the afternoon, a few snowflakes whitened the tracks and the number of runners on the track started to decrease. Icy snowflakes stuck to their double-fleece hats and on their tired faces. But the die-hard athletes were still easy to spot. They pulled out umbrellas.


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