More than 200 race to annual Polar Bear Plunge
By PAMELA GRANT
More than 200 people woke up early Saturday morning to run a 5k, and a few of those brave (or crazy!) individuals made the plunge, jumping into the frigid waters of the Copperas Cove City Park Pool.
Copperas Cove Parks & Recreation held its annual 5k to the Polar Bear Plunge with the tagline of “Freezin’ for a Reason”. In addition to the 5k and the plunge, there was a costume contest, belly flop competition, and a treading water contest.
Tourism and Information Coordinator Brianna McGuine said that she thought the weather this year was perfect.
“It’s not too cold, but it’s not too warm…You don’t want to come into an event like this and it be really warm, because that kinda defeats the purpose of the plunge.”
McGuine said she hoped that the race would help get people into the right state of mind to continue getting healthier and added that it’s a good way to kick off the new year.
For David Robinson, known on Facebook as the Original Fat Man on a Mission, completing Saturday’s 5k was both a way to continue to get in better shape and a way to motivate others.
Robinson’s current goal is to complete a 5k in each of the 254 counties in Texas. His mission is to get himself back to a healthier place and to encourage as many people as he can along the way.
Robinson began participating in 5k runs in 2016 after his weight hit 495 pounds. He said that he knew it would only be a matter of time before he hit 500 if he didn’t change something in his life. Robinson said he had every reason to just keep sitting on the couch. He was morbidly obese, had health problems, and was facing depression, but he still made the difficult decision to do something about it.
“This is hard. I don’t care if you’re 15 pounds and in perfect shape, or if you’re in my situation. Saturday morning, 8 am, 39 degrees, ain’t nobody wants to be out here,” said Robinson. “It’s not about winning, because there’s only going to be one person winning. It’s about finishing what you start, and if I can help anybody do that…My main goal is to encourage anybody who has given up or is thinking about giving up.”
Robinson can boast that he completed every 5k for each of the 67 counties he participated in. Robinson said that he has lost over 100 pounds so far.
Robinson shouted words of encouragement to everyone that he met as he worked towards completing the 5k. He wasn’t the fastest, finishing with a time of an hour and 17 minutes, but he completed the race, and inspired dozens along the way. After the race, and throughout the rest of Robinson’s stay at the park, dozens came up to him, thanking him for his kind words and for motivating them. Robinson said that anyone feeling down or feeling like giving up can seek him out on his Facebook page.
In addition to completing the 5k, Robinson said he’s always wanted to do a Polar Bear Plunge and was excited that he got to participate in one this weekend. He also competed in the belly flop competition.
“I ain’t gonna waste a belly like this,” said Robinson. “The one thing this belly can do is flop.”
Robinson placed second in the belly flop competition and won first place in the water treading competition.
Robinson wasn’t alone in his excitement to participate in the plunge. Jennyth Peterson has participated in both the 5k and the Polar Bear Plunge for the last 3 years.
“I really enjoy all of the activities that our Parks department puts together, and this one is just so much fun. The 5k, that’s great camaraderie, but this thing [the Plunge] is just ridiculous. It’s so fun. I last about a second in the pool before I get out, but I do it,” said Peterson. “It’s an adrenaline rush.”
Michael Pastrano and his daughter, Kayla Pastrano (16) also participated in this year’s plunge.
“It’s super cold in there,” said Michael Pastrano. “It definitely feels better outside the pool than inside.”
Kayla Pastrano (16) said that it felt terrible, but that she definitely wants to do it again next year.
Gian Mikel Pulido finished the 5k in 1st place with a time of 18:24.
Tania Figueroa was the fastest female finisher with a time of 22:11.