Brockville's 'Freeze Your Buns' Run goes virtual

Two residents of Brockville, Ont. take a walk on a snowy day in January 2021. (Nate Vandermeer / CTV News Ottawa)

With the stay-at-home order now in effect, one Brockville running club is going ahead with their annual event series virtually.

The 'Freeze Your Buns' series will continue as usual on the last weekends of January, February and March. Participants are asked to run in their own neighbourhoods and submit their own time when they get back home.

"We welcome everybody and, when you're participating in this, you have to follow the protocols so there's no social gatherings," said Ed Eby of the Brockville Road Runners.

"It's a virtual run so, basically, you walk out your door, turn left, and put the distance that you are doing. It's either a 1k or a 5k," Eby said, noting that it's very similar to last year's Canada Day run.

"Go out, have fun with your family, run it and, at the end of the day, all the proceeds go to the food bank," he added.

The race is usually held at the Memorial Centre. It is open to all ages, and continues in any sort of weather.

"Some years it was dry asphalt, other years there was snow flying," said Eby. "I think the last one we did last year before COVID set in we were coming back down Millwood Avenue and (with) the wind and the snow, we couldn't see 100 feet ahead of you. But it was fun! That's what makes it 'Freeze Your Buns Off'! Some days it's easier than other times but it's always fun!"

Eby said, with the new provincial orders to stay at home, people are still looking to be active and getting outside is still allowed.

"When I meet people on the trail, for them and for myself, it's huge. It gives you a chance to free the mind and we've got a beautiful city here. Beautiful places to run and get some fresh air and hopefully soon we'll be able to do it much closer together," Eby said.

At this time of year, people can suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD), and a day that has been dubbed 'Blue Monday', known as the most depressing day of the year, is coming up on Jan. 18.

"Blue Monday is a bit of a myth versus a reality, but seasonal affective disorder or being a little bit blue at this time of year in the winter is not, it's not a myth," said Natalie Toman, health promotion lead at Participaction.

"Winter blues is real and many people are affected in varying ways," Toman said. "A lot of it has to do with less light and less sunlight, and so the more we can get outdoors and get some good old sun rays will help us and definitely adding exercise, especially now, it's a great way to stimulate the release of feel good hormones."

Toman noted that a recently released survey from the Canadian Mental Health Association showed that two of every five Canadians are feeling a little bit blue at this time of the year.

"There are no public health guidelines at this moment that say that you can't get outdoors but, once again, respecting social distancing is always important," Toman said. "Taking advantage of a run where you can get around your block and get some rays and get outside is a great idea. Brisk walking after five minutes can really help your mood and moving for your mood is key."

She also noted that most communities are allowing people to use skating rinks, and that if there is less snow in your area, you can still take your bike out for a ride.

"Moving for your mood is the most important thing. Getting active, getting sun, and getting connected socially if you can outdoors with safe protocols," she said.

Participaction is also launching the 'True North Challenge' on Jan. 18 through their free app.

"This is a two-week challenge where all movement minutes count. You can be competing for prizing virtually with your community or with your loved ones. I encourage you to download the free app and take advantage of this opportunity to find the motivation you might need, especially now," Toman said.

On the Brock Trail on Friday, users of the path said it's also good for their mental health.

"For me personally, it's good mental health, if you will, and also I just like they way I feel after," said 73-year-old Barry Hall.

"I went and invested in a Bowflex this year because you can't use the gym equipment anywhere and you have to do your best to stay healthy. Nobody is going to look after you but yourself," Hall said.

For 84-year-old Gordon Douglas, staying active also makes him feel better.

"I feel I have to stay active all the time. If I don't, I become lackadaisical and I don't feel up to par. By getting these walks in and being busy around my home, I just feel great each day," Douglas said.

"It means a lot to me to be able to get out and walk and keep exercised. I'm looking forward to the day we are back to normal or near normal again. Just being in the house all the time not being able to have friends in and so on really becomes a drag," Douglas added.

"I'm an outdoors person and the running aspect of being outdoors is a huge benefit," added Eby, adding the Freeze Your Buns Run is open to everybody.

"Running is a sport and comes in very different forms so we encourage everybody to get out and do that part of the sport," he said.

All proceeds raised from the run will go to the Brockville and Area Food Bank, and there is still lots of time to sign up.

You can register on the Brockville Road Runners website or through their Facebook page.