Whether you want to walk, run, bike, skate or snowshoe, it's the middle of February in Winnipeg and there couldn't be a better time to get outside and enjoy winter.
And the Jack Frost Commuter Challenge is hoping to encourage Winnipeggers to do just that.
"We just want you to get outside and face the mental barriers of accessing the outdoors in what is our coldest month," explains the challenge's coordinator at Green Action Centre, Liz Shearer.
The initiative, which kicks off Sunday morning at The Forks, sees friends, family, coworkers and classmates sign up as teams to spend more time outside, whether it's to get to and from work through the snow or take in recreational activities like a skate on the river trail or a cross-country ski adventure.
This is the seventh year of the challenge, and last year more than 16,000 outdoor kilometres were marked by 388 participants.
Participating teams made up of one to five people are each challenged to trek for a team total of 130 kilometres over a one week period from Feb. 11 to 17.
Shearer hopes to see even more people embracing winter this time around.
"It's a really awesome year this year — we're in prime winter conditions in Winnipeg — the river is frozen and not soupy this year and the trails are groomed," she said. "Let's get out there and see even more people celebrating winter."
'I loved it'
The hope is the challenge will encourage everyone who takes part to continue to reap the benefits of spending more time outside even after the challenge is over.
The benefits are something Shearer — who took part for the first time last winter — can attest to.
"I rented snowshoes, I walked to work, I skated to work and I loved it," she said, admitting to previously spending a lot of her spare time sitting on couches. "I got to work every day just beaming, I got to actually skate with a coworker who lives in my building and it was a really fun opportunity to be able to connect to work with them and have bragging rights when I got there.
"It's ultimately best when you do it with friends because it's good for your mental health in winter to actually get out and see people and connect with them in a way that you might not have known you'd enjoy."
Shearer says as well as the benefits, teams that log their winter trips and share their experiences using the #JackFrostChallenge hashtag on social media and through the new GoManitoba app will be eligible for prize packages.
For more information on the event go to greenactioncentre.ca.