Student athletes, who are part of the St. Clair College Saints varsity cross country team, will be donning warm long-sleeve shirts, insulating pants, hats and gloves Saturday, in order to safely compete in this year's national cross country championships.
The annual Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association's (CCAA) Cross Country Running National Championship takes place in Grand Prairie, Alta., where temperatures with a wind chill are expected to reach –20 C.
In addition to braving sub-zero temperatures and icy winds, runners will also be forced to wade through 30 to 40 centimetres of snow.
According to Beth Horrobin, a runner with St. Clair College's women's cross country team, the fall season means athletes can race in weather ranging from high heat to rain.
"It's chilly, but not usually lots of snow," said Horrobin.
Paul Boots, head coach for St. Clair College's varsity cross country team, said the insulting clothing runners will be required to wear likely won't have a great impact on their performance.
"When it comes to this stage, they've been told throughout the season that you can only control what you can control, and when it's the Canadian championships, they're all going to be pretty amped and pretty excited," he said. "It comes down to mental preparation, and during the race, it's mostly mental."
Even though some teams from exceptionally cold-temperature provinces like Alberta will have more experience competing in snowy weather, Boots said he doesn't expect any team to have an advantage in Saturday's conditions.
"They're going to be as warm as anybody else for sure," said Boots. "As far as the other teams having more prep, I don't know, I think it's unseasonably cold."
Additionally, Boots said athletes won't be changing their diets to compete.
"They're told to eat healthy all year long, so a balanced diet is what it's all about," he said. "The joke is you stay away from any foods that you haven't eaten before … [for] a significant race."