The Polar Bear Plunge is a freezing cold dip in a body of water that has turned into a tradition for many communities in the U.S. and Canada. With huge followings across the continent and plenty of great marketing, it’s a good idea to leverage the Polar Bear Plunge for your next race event.
Here are a few truths to know about Polar Bear Plunges and how you can incorporate them in your next winter triathlon.
They’re always held in the middle of winter.
This may seem obvious, but keep it in mind that holding a “Polar Bear” event in the spring or summer just won’t make as much sense, even if you’re trying to be ironic. Many organizers hold the event on days that are already significant, like Super Bowl Sunday or New Year’s Day.
They are usually huge charity fundraising events
Beyond the thrill-seeking aspect of jumping into a body of water that’s nearly freezing when it’s also freezing cold outside, the events have a larger appeal by raising money for charity. This solidifies the event even further in the community consciousness and gives it a greater purpose. Your triathlon or other race event should parallel this feeling of giving.
Not all plungers are athletes
Because the Polar Bear event is based on community bonding and charitable giving, a lot of the participants will not be athletes who are interested in competing in a race. You should make sure there are options available to plungers who don’t want to bike or run or possibly even swim very much so that you won’t lose a core chunk of your participants.
They’re traditions that bring the community together.
This is important, because you’re going to need to build your triathlon around the Polar Bear Plunge and not the other way around. If there’s an existing plunge in your community, don’t try to take it over — work with the existing organizers and let them know you’re building an event around theirs. If you’re starting a new Polar Bear Plunge, remember that a lot of your target participants will not be people you’d normally target for a race event.
Overall, a Polar Bear Plunge is a great way to bring your local community together for a good cause and have a good laugh, and it’s also a fun event to organize a triathlon around. You can use it as the “reward” after the race, or allow spectators to take the plunge while the race is going on.
For more details on organizing a winter triathlon, read our Winter Triathlon 101.