The 7.6 mile loop of Lake Waramaug has become an annual winter tradition for hundreds of area runners. The scenic course travels counterclockwise along the shoreline of the glacial lake while passing through Washington, Warren and Kent. The route is primarily flat with a few gentle rolling hills.

The top three male and female finishers receive prizes. First place overall wins a $100 TrailHeads gift card and a bottle of wine from Hopkins Vineyard. Age Group Awards are presented for the top 3 in each category:
18 & under / 19-29 / 30-39 / 40-49 / 50-59 / 60-69 / 70 & over

A note regarding parking: please consider carpooling with your fellow runners, parking is very limited.

*** Be Sure to Sign Up Early - The Race is limited to 600 participants ***

Have a look at the fun! View our Polar Bear Run Photo Gallery.


From the South: Head north on Route 202, take a left onto Route 45. Go left at the stop sign onto West Shore Road. Registration takes place at the Lake Waramaug Country Club Tennis House next to the courts.

From the North: Head south on Route 202, take a right onto Route 45 and follow same directions as above.

Race Number Pick Up:

Numbers will be available for pick up on Race Day at the start area - at the Tennis House adjacent to the tennis courts at the Lake Waramaug Country Club, beginning at 9:45 AM.



Much like the Lake itself, the Race has an interesting history. The Race's origin can be traced back to the running boom that swept the country in the seventies. The Woodbury, CT based Tin Man Athletic Club staged the initial running around the frozen lake in 1980. Lead Pack Sports took over organizational efforts and they were followed by the Bethel Bananas Running Club in 1986.

From 1987-1991 what had been the area's only winter running race went into hibernation and the race was not held for 5 years. In 1991, Wallie Jahn opened a retail store for runners, Road & Track Sports, and in response to strong interest from the local running community, he resurrected the Race in 1992 with the help of the Lake Waramaug Country Club.

After Jahn fell ill, Dave Dunleavy stepped up to help manage the Race in 2012. A long time Kent resident and running enthusiast, Dunleavy continued to build on the tradition that has made the Polar Bear Run a favorite of area runners. In 2018, Dunleavy handed off the race organizing responsibilities to Stephanie and Ed Raftery, co-founders of TrailHeads, a Kent, CT based online retailer of gloves, hats, headbands and related accessories for running and outdoor enthusiasts. 2018 also marked the start of a partnership with Guiding Eyes for the Blind as the event's charitable beneficiary.

The current record holders for the Lake Waramaug Polar Bear Run are:

  • Men's Record Holder: Elijah Kitur / 38:07 (1998)
  • Women's Record Holder: Anne Hird / 43:34 (1983)


Guiding Eyes for the Blind is an organization that trains guide dogs to partner with blind or visually impaired people. The Run has raised over $17,000 for Guiding Eyes for the Blind since 2018. Trainers and guide dogs in training have attended the race to meet and support the runners and in 2020 trainers and two guide dogs from the Running Guides Program ran and completed the race as part of their training. Learn more about Guiding Eyes for the Blind here.


FAQ - General Questions


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