Plunge 9
Runners-turned-swimmers dive into the chilly waters of Lake Elmer Thomas the morning of Jan. 21, at Fort Sill. The Polar Bear Plunge was part of the activities that included a 5K run, and a 1K Cub Crawl for youngsters. Everyone was encouraged to wear a costume.

FORT SILL, Okla. -- More than 170 people, many in costumes ranging from Santa Claus to a Lego family to a robber and Jimi Hendrix, turned out in 20-degree weather for the morning Polar Bear Plunge and 5K Run Jan. 21 at Lake Elmer Thomas Recreation Area.

"Even though the temperatures dipped into the teens, we had a great turnout this year," said Cara Bell, event organizer and acting sports director. "Between the 5K and the Cub Crawl, there were around 180 runners. A lot of brave souls, around 100 people of all ages, took the plunge too, and some even went back a second time. It was a fun way to start the weekend -- mixing fitness, family, and freezing cold water."

Many of the 5K runners were in shorts and without any winter outerwear.

"It wasn't so bad while I was running except for the ice cold wind which cut right through me," said the first runner across the finish line, who wore shorts for the run.

"Jimi Hendrix" was shirtless with only a vest and peace-sign necklace on and the church lady dressed all in white with a floral hat included, hitched up her skirts thigh-high for the run. Other costumes for the run included Pippy Longstockings, a bumble bee, a penguin and an explorer with his dog who had the 'LETRA monster' eating his hindquarters. The monster (a child's Halloween costume worn on the dog's hind legs) wasn't able to hang on once the run started and was left behind yards from the starting line. The dog's owner remarked that it was a wardrobe malfunction.

Also running were a Scotsman in a kilt, tam and sporran, a cat and a cow complete with udders.
Winners of the 5K were Josiah Johnstone with a time of 17:26 in the men's category and Erin Wingfield with a time of 20:55 for women. Jamil Ellinger and his family won the costume contest with their Lego costumes.

The event, hosted by Family and MWR Sports Department, was open to the public.
"This is the second year MWR has put on this activity, and both years have been a hit," said Bell. "We have seen a great response in participation, even the plunge in mid-January isn't keeping people away."

According to Bell, the event is a great way to incorporate fitness, morale enhancement, and great fun all in one activity.

"This weather isn't that bad. Where I come from (Wisconsin) we cut a hole in the ice and jump in," said Col. Daniel Karbler, Air Defense Artillery School commandant and chief of ADA. Karbler is also the owner of the dog that survived the LETRA monster. He was also the person who plunged in and went back to take a few more dips in the lake after everyone else got out.

Page last updated Thu January 26th, 2012 at 00:00