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What Makes for a Great Winter Running City?

by Mark Lowenstein

When it comes to winter, there are two types of runners: those who head to the treadmill or favorite warmer clime and those who don the extra layer and seek the snowiest of scapes. Winters runners cheer the forecast that says it’s going to be 22°and crisp, rather than 42° and drizzly.

And just like there are ‘winter runners’, there are also winter running cities. What makes a great winter running city? These are the cities that have a winter culture. Winter cities celebrate and embrace winter, turning tennis courts into ice rinks, laying ski tracks in their parks and preserves, and invariably hosting some form of winter carnival. And for runners, some of the iconic roads and trails are maintained and cleared from snow so they can be enjoyed in winter. In cities located at particularly northern latitudes, such in Canada, Scandinavia, Finland, & Iceland, we find there’s a pretty good network of well-lit paths.

Another key ingredient, of course, is reliable winter weather! That means temperatures remaining consistently below freezing during the winter months, with reliable snow cover from December through at least February.

Our favorite winter running cities are clustered in certain predictable regions: Canada, northern U.S. states & New England, and certain cities in northern Europe. See our list of best winter running cities.

Here are our top 10 cities in terms of reliable winter: consistent cold and near guaranteed snowpack (in no particular order):

Canada: Montreal, Quebec City, Ottawa, St. John’s
United States: Burlington (VT), Syracuse, Minneapolis-St.Paul
Europe: Moscow; Oulu, Finland; Minsk, Belarus; Tallinn, Estonia
Asia: Sapporo is the snowiest major city in the world!

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