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FROZEN FEET — Canton runners brave cold, snow in races’ 35th year

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CANTON — Maybe they should call it “Frozen Feet.”

Almost 100 runners, walkers, joggers and stumblers participated in the third leg of the Frozen Foote race series, braving 12-degree temperatures and a slick, snowy road surface to continue a 35-year tradition.

Typically, more than 150 runners participate, but Friday’s snowstorm and the cold may have lowered attendance, race organizer Peter D. Feickert said.

“We have only postponed the race once, in the winter of 1998 after the ice storm,” he said. “We didn’t think it would be cool to run when all travel was canceled.”

Mr. Feickert said the race is held rain, snow or shine.

The event, named after Canton founder Stillman Foote, is a 4-mile road race from St. Lawrence University’s Appleton Arena south down Miner Street and back.

Daniel L. Dominie, Canton, who has run every race, every year in the event’s history, said the cold and snow are part of the fun.

“The hardest part is usually getting up and coming out,” he said. “Obviously, people come out for the exercise. I come for the great individuals who come out here.”

Suna Stone-McMasters ran her 18th Frozen Foote.

“You see all shapes and sizes of people,” she said. “All ages. People run with their children, their dogs.”

For many of the racers, it isn’t about finishing first, or even beating a personal best — it is about the camaraderie among fellow runners.

“There’s definitely a social aspect to the race,” said John T. Casserly, who kept vigil by the finish line, calling out times as racers crossed.

Since the runners compete on an open public street, they have to be aware of traffic and dangerous, slippery conditions. “It is a very close-knit group,” Mr. Dominie said. “Everybody looks out for each other.”

The series features four races on the second Saturday of December, January, February and March. If a runner participates in three of the races, he receives a T-shirt.

David S. Wurzburg, Black Lake, was running in his sixth Frozen Foote. “If there’s snow on the roads like today, it is difficult getting traction,” he said. “I appreciate the fact they put on this race. There aren’t too many opportunities to race in winter.”

After the race, runners recorded their own times and cooled down — or warmed up, in this case — in the Appleton Arena lobby.

“There’s a tradition of ethics. We don’t monitor everything that is going on,” Mr. Casserly said. “We assume everybody pays, but the honors system not only goes for the money, but what they’re doing in the race. We figure Stillman Foote keeps an eye on the whole thing.”

In years past some racers would sometimes celebrate their frosty finish with a party.

“We used to have a group of three-four runners who came down from Ottawa. They had a tradition of tailgating after the race,” Mr. Casserly said.

Now, more serious runners keep going after crossing the finish, Ms. Stone-McMasters said. “Everybody disperses in different directions,” she said. “Some get coffee; others go out and do more distance because they’re getting ready to run marathons in the spring. I’m always busy doing my extra mile.”

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