For most Minnesotans, winter means subzero temperatures, slippery roads, snowy trails and limited daylight. Dick Daymont refers to it as marathon season.
He created and now runs the Zoom! Yah! Yah! each January, which he believes is the oldest indoor marathon in the country. Runners can escape the cold, the snow and the dark, and run 26.2 miles in a climate-controlled, well-lighted space-with more than 600 aid stations along the route. You just have to run 150 laps on a 282-meter indoor track at St. Olaf College.
"Yes, it's a lot of turns," Daymont says. "But you change direction every 30 minutes. And you have a personal volunteer to keep track of your laps. All you have to do is run."
The Zoom! Yah! Yah! Is just one of a number of indoor marathons that bring runners inside during the winter to get their racing in while the outdoors are inhospitable to running. To call it a trend would probably go too far-these races tend to draw dozens of people and are only held in colder climates between November and March.
"Outdoor marathons get tens of thousands of people," says Scott Sutter, who organizes the Arena Attack at the XL Energy Center in Hartford, Conn. On the other hand, far fewer run an indoor marathon every year.
Daymont says he came up with the idea for his indoor marathon "over two or three beers." The 67-year-old teacher, who has run more than 100 marathons, was talking with friends about creating a fundraiser for St. Olaf's track team, which his wife coached.