When it comes to sports, I love a good adrenaline rush.
So, I have to admit, my first thought when I was invited to go snowshoe running with the Raz family for the first in our outdoor sports series, Cold Play, was, "This will be a walk in the park."
I was pleasantly surprised by just how much fun it was (and that's saying a lot for a guy who hates running for exercise).
The first thing you realize: running snowshoes are incredibly light, small and springy. After a while you barely notice you have them on.
The second realization comes a couple dozen steps into Gatineau Park: snowshoe running, is an incredible workout.
Kristi Raz and her husband, Mike, run marathons across north America. But some of their best training is done under the tree-lined, snow-covered trails of Gatineau park.
"You're not on the concrete, you're out enjoying nature. That's the best part about it," said Kristi. "But you've got to allow for time. If you're used to running a 5K in under half an hour, it's going to take you closer to an hour to actually finish it [in snowshoes]."
For the diehards, Mad Trapper organizes snow shoe races through the forest.
Ultimate snowshoe experience
For those needing a bit more of a rush, Winterlude tossed in a new sport this year: Snowshoe ultimate.
Fans of the frisbee game, including Andrew Cameron, braved a frigid to start to the inaugural tournament at Lansdowne Park.
"It's a perfect marriage of the brawn of it, the speed, the agility, the dexterity as well as the brains of it. It's a bit of a chess game once you get into it," Cameron said.
A chess game under a wind chill that feels like –41 C.
But within minutes, some of us were peeling off the layers. It's fun, fast-paced and incredibly engaging.
Teams of five players of all ages try to pass the disc up the field to score points. Whether you're blocking opponents' passes or diving in the snow for the disc, you're never standing still.
'Don't run backwards!'
Ewelina Sosnowska, an experienced ultimate player reminds, me of one very important tip.
"But don't run backwards in those!" Sosnowska warned.
Thanks, Ewelina. Wish I'd known that before taking a half dozen tumbles.
But that's the beauty of outdoor winter sports. The snow will break your fall, and no one can see you grimace under all that cold weather gear.