The Joy of Pulk Running

The history of the pulk (sled) dates back as long as humans have been living in winter conditions and needing to transport things over the snow. I never really thought much about them before signing up for the Rock and Ice Ultra (, however I will have to run while pulling a pulk with all of my supplies in it for the entire six day race.

Pulks come in many shapes and sizes, from bulky expedition style to a baby carrier style. I am taking it one step further and am in the process of coming up with my own design. The concept is very basic (ie. inexpensive) and I am looking to use a simple child’s sled with poles attached to my waist to prevent the pulk from running into me while going down hills. It has been a fun process and being a bit of a gear geek, I’ve enjoyed tinkering and trying to find the perfect design for me. I’m current trying to attach dogsled runners to the bottom to allow it to track a little smoother.

I have to admit that initially I didn’t really think that I would enjoy the whole idea of pulling a heavy load behind me during a run. Before we got snow, I was preparing for what lay ahead by dragging an old car tire. This was tough work. I tried to have a better attitude about it by naming my tire, however no matter how much you try to lighten things up mentally, running with a tire roped to your waist isn’t much fun at all.

An interesting thing happened though as soon as the snow hit the ground and I was able to switch the tire for my pulk. The pulling was much easier and I was able to actually start enjoying my pulk runs and even looking for any excuse to run with it. From running to the store to get groceries to loading up for a full day of fun in the outdoors, I found that by running with my pulk, I had many more interesting ways to enjoy my runs.

Knowing that you are out there for possibly several hours at a time, it’s very comforting that you can pack a wide variety of extra gear in your pulk for any conditions. Need an extra layer of clothing, dry socks, switch from trail shoes to traction device to snowshoes, have a more substantial lunch than just a sport bar, or maybe a hot drink, grab a headlamp, go winter camping?

Pulk running opens up so many fun opportunities for winter adventures. The possibilities are truly endless.


About the author

Sara Montgomery and Derrick Spafford

Derrick and Sara are trail runners from Eastern Ontario who discovered that running on snowshoes in the winter months is a great way to enjoy their favorite trails year-round. They competed in their first snowshoe series (The Mad Trapper Series in Low, Quebec) in 2005, each finishing 2nd in their respective divisions. Plans for 2006 are to return to the Mad Trapper, to take in some races in New York and Vermont, and hopefully cap their season with the U.S. Snowshoe Championships in March, as Canadian guests. Derrick runs a company, Spafford Health and Adventure (, which specializes in coaching and event promotion. He is currently planning an annual snowshoe race to be held in the Kingston area, starting this winter.

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