2011 Resolution Run 5K and Polar Bear Dive, Seattle

A polar bear swimming

Image via Wikipedia

One of the strangest Seattle traditions is the Resolution Run, presented by Club Northwest every January 1st.  It is a 5 kilometer run through Magnuson Park which is the site of an old naval base.  The event includes an optional dive off the Magnuson boat ramp into the frigid waters of Lake Washington.

The first thing you need to know is that the dive is completely optional.  About 60% of the participants choose to take the plunge.  Oh, and it’s not really a dive.  The ramp angles into the water, so you run down the ramp, and slowly immerse your body in the 40 degree water until it gets too hard to run and then you start swimming.  So forget practicing your swan dive and put your mind at ease.  It’s all right if you want to dive, really, just be smart and bring a towel and clothes to change into so you can enjoy the post race festivities.  Last year, there weren’t any changing facilities, so it was possible to get a glimpse of a whole lot more of some of your fellow Resolution Runners than you might have anticipated.  I am hoping that the new beach building at Magnuson will be open for your changing discretion.

Oh, yes.  Discretion.   This is the weird part, but then again, it’s hardly noticeable.   I seem to remember a naked bike ride, en masse, that barely raised an eyebrow in this town.  Last year was an exceptional year for costumes.  Some people are afraid of clowns; the Tracer family fears men in Speedos.  Yep.  Two guys did the run in Speedos.  And with the rise in Five Finger running gear (you can’t call those things shoes, can you?)–where does it all end?  There were some perfectly charming costumes–women in bikini tops and hula skirts–but it’s the men in Speedos that we can’t forget, that haunt our dreams.

Speedos aside, the other thing you need to know is that it is 100% fine if you just want to do a 5K walk.  Really!  Fine!  Do the walk!  Plan on being in the cold for about an hour and dress warm.  Walkers are cool.  They seem to be very social and have a lot of fun.

Okay–here is my biggest MOST IMPORTANT TIP:

PARKING IS TOUGH!  VERY TOUGH!  Don’t expect to whip into a parking spot right by the start at 10:25 and pick up your shirt and your number.  Let’s go over the steps:

  • the best way to get to the start is to turn east on NE 65th and Sand Point Way and head down to the water–you will pass a parking lot on your left (Parking Area 1)–it is roughly across from the fish thingamabob–take a look–see if there is any space to park here and keep it in mind. 
  • there is parking down by the boat ramp (Parking Area 2) and some (Parking Area 3) near Kite Hill.  People also park alongside the road–just be sensitive to whether the area is blocked off or not.
  • if these are full, then go back to the parking on NE 65th (Area 1)
  • if that is full, hang a right at the baseball field.  People sometimes park along the road here.
  • if these are full, then there is a big parking lot near all the soccer fields
  • if that is full, then there are spots near the Mountaineers club and Sand Point Sailing–bottom line is that these are at least a mile from the race start
  • just be cool and allow yourself plenty of time to get there and park or consider carpooling with a designated driver, ride your bike, or even take the bus–Metro lines are 30, 74 and 75–get off at NE 65th and Sand Point Way
  • you can do it!  walk or run, I’ll see you there! 

Who:  Club Northwest

What: Resolution Run and Polar Bear Dive

When: Registration opens at 9:00 am; race starts at 10:30 am

Where: Magnuson Boat ramp

Why: The Resolution Run is a great way to start off the new year with physical fitness.  The Polar Bear Dive?  You’re on your own.  Fundraiser for Club Northwest.

How much: $40 day of race


Am I planning to run?  No.  My plan is to volunteer and cheer for you, whether or not you dash down the boat ramp.  If you want to help, let the folks at ProMotion events know ASAP.  Also, I will donate $1 per person to the food bank for the 1st 25 people who let me know that they saw my blog and ran this race.  Just supply your number and time.  Offer expires next Wednesday, January 5th.


About sma11fish

small fish in a big pond
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