A. J. Windless
A pair of cloth gloves like the pair I wore when I got frostbite while running 10 miles.
I'm not sure who started the tradition, maybe the Sorg brothers, but our distance runners had a 10 mile course that we ran occasionally during the winter prior to the opening of track practice. We simply referred to it as "Taft Road" which was a quiet road a few miles long that connected two of the main arteries that ran out of town. We left the school and ran through town until we turned left onto North St. Marys Road, which wound through a farming area up and down one hill after another (typical of northern Pennsylvania, the entire course was hilly.) From there we turned left onto Taft Road, which was partly farms and partly forest, and then turned left again onto the Johnsonburg Road, which was mostly forest. Once or twice I ran with 4 to 6 other guys, but most of the time I ran on my own iniative.

One cold winter day I went to chess club prior to my run. By the time I started running the other guys were already finished, it was getting colder,  and it would soon be dark. As usual, I called a phone number that gave me the temperature for our area, a chilly 14 degrees Fahrenheit (or about -10 Celsius.) As I started my run the wind seem to blow right through my sweatsuit but I told myself I would be okay once I got warmed up. I never did get "warmed up" and by the time I reached Taft Road it was clear that I should turn back, but having reached the half way mark it wouldn't do any good to turn around now. I was wearing cloth gloves and my fingers were cold. I had sweated in them and the wind had turned the sweat into ice. Once I reached the Johnsonburg Road my fingers weren't cold anymore, they began to feel warm. I didn't know it at the time, but that was a bad sign. I followed the highway all the way into our school and once I reached the locker room removed my gloves to find that the the tips of my fingers had turned a strange shade of white, a color I had never before seen. As I entered the shower the warm water struck my fingers, dissolving the numbness, and making them sting in a way that told me to never do that again. Fortunately for me, it was only the skin the was frostbit. Had the frostbite been deep enough I could have lost my fingers to amputation. The whiteness of my fingertips turned to red and looked and felt much like a severe sunburn. A week or two later when they healed, the skin even peeled off like a sunburn.

For the rest of my Pennsylvania life I would not run outside if it was below 20 degrees Fahrenheit, though I did begin to do so again six years later while I was training in Salt Lake City, remembering of course what had happened, and never challenging the cold head-on like I did on that windy winter day along Taft Road.

(Above: A pair of cloth gloves similar to the ones I wore when I got frostbite.)
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