The Jack Frost Challenge (JFC) is a week-long event hoping to get its participants to skate, bike, ski, snowshoe, run or walk a total of 130 km over the week of Feb. 12 to 18.
The event invites participants to sign up solo or in groups of two to five people.
“(JFC) was born out of the annual Actif Epica event, a gruelling winter bike ride and run that takes place right here in Manitoba,” Elizabeth Shearer, Commuter Challenge coordinator for Green Action Centre (GAC), says.
Every year, the GAC organizes two of the largest commuting events in Canada: the JFC and the Commuter Challenge in June, which brings out over 20,000 Canadians to participate in greener commuting options.
The JFC includes kick-off (Feb. 12) and wrap-up (Feb. 18) events, where GAC offers some interactive snow creations, hot chocolate and community bonding, Shearer says.
“You’ll find us at our booth by the ‘snofas’ (snow sofas) taking pics and skating with friends,” Shearer says. “We’re looking forward to getting together with participants to enjoy a job well done with a refreshing adult beverage from the bar.”
Shearer encourages and applauds individuals who hope to tackle the challenge solo but says most participants are signing up in groups of three to five people.
“One of the reasons it’s hard to stay active over these cold winter months is because it can be harder to get together with friends,” Shearer says. “By signing up as a group, you’re committing to getting up to a bunch of fun outside together during winter.”
The challenge isn’t focused solely on encouraging healthy, communal, outdoor activity, but also hopes to get participants inspired by their wintry world.
“There are so many benefits to accepting the challenge that Jack Frost brings,” Shearer says. “From witnessing the beauty of sun dogs in the sky, snowflake patterns and the dusting of snow on treetops to the satisfaction creating your own microclimate underneath your jacket by working up a sweat and having icicles form on your eyelashes.”
“People are taking in great new winter experiences, so it’s not just about how far you go,” Shearer says. “Although … the further you go with your team, the more likely you are to win sweet prizes.”
Jessie Klassen has participated in the JFC since its inception seven years ago.
“It's been a fun way to challenge myself to take the time to get outside and get active every day,” Klassen says, “even if it's just out for a quick walk in the evening or a longer skate at The Forks on the weekend.”
Klassen usually participates in a group and remembers previous years’ groups, including a workplace team and team of her and her family members.
“It's nice to have a collective target to aim for and watch as your team's numbers climb,” Klassen says.
“The mental health benefits of fresh air and exercise in winter are worth the extra effort of getting outside for the challenge. I'm always amazed how great it feels to be outside and active ... suddenly February isn't just a month to get through. It can be enjoyable.”