Monday, January 17, 2022

Naples Polar Plungers Ring In 2020 For a Good Cause

All around the country, crazy ambitious polar bear plungers took to ringing in the New Year jumping into frigid waters. At Lowdermilk Park in Naples, the New Year’s Day Big Dave’s Polar Plunge drew 100+ such “polar plungers” to wash off the old year and welcome the new.  

Polar Plunge is not an image you associate with Naples Beach where the temperature is a “doable” 70 degrees. This is not the kind of temperature where you hit the icy cold water and literally freeze for 30 seconds akin to hitting a re-set button for a New YOU for the New Year! 

For Wednesday morning, January 1st, 2020, a crowd of 250+ runners and walkers, gathered at the Lowdermilk Park in Naples before the plunge. They are here for the traditional Dave Cranor 5K and Big Dave’s Polar Plunge. The 5K was a free untimed event familystyle run/walk and the perfect activity to start the New Year and a warmup for the “icy” plunge. 

Rules were simple: at the sound of the horn run into the ocean as fast as you can, submerge and run back as fast as you can and get those wet clothes off! 

Who was Dave Cranor? Way back in 2012, this run was called the Alka-Seltzer Run and was renamed in Dave Cranor’s honor, one of the founders of Gulf Coast Runners. Dave was also a long time Collier County Sheriff’s Office pilot who unfortunately passed away.  

Traditionally, most people ring in the New Year at midnight with parties and festivities. They could start their new year nursing a hangover, watching football all day, or lace up a pair of running shoes and join a fun run to kick off a healthy and active 2020.  

The first recorded Polar Bear Swim took place in Boston 1904 and has grown into an icy New Year’s Day tradition. 

On Lake Minnetonka, the temperature was reported at minus 15 for the “ice dive.” In Boston, hundreds raced into the 43-degree water in Boston Harbor for the world-famous L Street Brownies polar bear plunge. In Maine, snowstorms did not stop Portland Mainers from taking their annual Polar Bear Dip at Portland’s East End Beach. 

The Dave Cranor’s 5K and Big Dave’s Polar Plunge proceeds go to the Drug Court Kids who volunteer at many of the Gulf Coast Runners events. Gulf Coast Runners also run with Drug Court program participants who are helped by the benefits of running with seasoned members. 

Looking for a New Year’s Resolution? Get fit, be active and give back! 

Save the Date: January 25th, 2020Run for the Paws in Naples to help orphaned pets at the Humane Society Naples. Run with your canine companion on a scenic, flat course around Naples Airport and have fun at your pace. Check out the Gulf Coast Runners website for a list of charity fun runs at 

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