The 2016 Polar Run: Return to Lutsen

We Minnesotans will find a way to have fun in winter. This is one way we do it…

The second annual Polar Run will launch on January 29 with about 40 entrants zig-zagging their way between the Twin Cities and Lutsen Mountain. Since the actual route is a secret, only revealed on rally day, participants expect to be challenged on varying road conditions, colder temperatures and on many different surfaces – including ice. The reward is a stay at a resort on Lutsen Mountain, complete with ski slopes, hot tubs and relaxation.

Like last year, the Polar Run is for charity. The beneficiary of this rally is the Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Upper Midwest. With four locations in the metro Twin Cities, families of children going through serious illness are given a place to be near their loved ones. The Ronald McDonald House relies on donations to maintain these homes for their families. In 2015, The Polar Run collected $10,000 in donations to the Ronald McDonald House. According to The Polar Run organizers, donations for the 2016 run have almost doubled that figure. It is estimated that total donations would be around $20,000.

Participants are also involved in a raffle for prizes by local sponsors and other supporters. While a cash prize is the big draw, Auto Vault threw in a couple of prizes, as well. This year's Gold level sponsors include Joey Nova's pizzeria in Tonka Bay, Reshetar Systems and Glisten detailing. Silver level sponsors are Red Line Fiber and LaPointe Utilities. Victory & Reseda and Dynamic Photowerks also participated in events running up to this year's Polar Run.

Michael Mandler of #TeamQuattro and the V&R colors

That is The Polar Run in a nutshell…an unknown route full of side roads, challenges and absolute fun. That is, as long as the local authorities do not step in the way of the rally.

A bit of history here. The rally was the brainchild of Hayley Lynn Noll and Matt Smith, two Twin Cities auto enthusiasts. Although obligations are keeping Smith away from the rally, graphic designer and enthusiast Shane Sienko has stepped in to help Noll in organizing this year's run. So far, the teams will be in for a lot of fun on the roads, especially with a forecast of around five inches of snow in the Lutsen area.

If you go through the entrant list, there are two common brands running in The Polar Run – Subaru and Audi. The reason is simple: all-wheel drive. Seven Subarus will be running alongside five Audis. Another growing trend are the number of trucks and SUVs running. In total, there are six trucks and eight SUVs entered in this year's run. This is already getting interesting.

This is not just the combination of all/four-wheel drive systems. Check the tires on each entrant. Most likely, you will find winter rubber on these vehicles. One entrant last year ran on all-seasons for his rear-wheel drive sports coupe. You have to be a brave soul to run with this set-up.

The other part is the technology. A look inside one of the participant's vehicles will find an array of mobile technology on board. One such car had more than enough mobile technology to rival a Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner aircraft. All one needed was a GPS that used a better frequency overriding the lack of mobile reception along some of the routes.

The usual suspects are back this year. Most of them happen to be readers and friends of Victory & Reseda. You may even see our logomark on two of the participants: Team Quattro (2000 Audi S4) and Team Rushing (2007 Infiniti G37 AWD).

Defending their 2015 win is Team All We'll Drive. To do so, Tony and Diego have a new weapon for this year's Polar Run. The question is…will they win again?

The one thing about The Polar Run is that its is a competition on some levels. But, one would see it as a fun weekend full of winter driving and some activities afterwards. Moreover, it is an adventure.

The teams are set. It is time to engage winter mode.

All photos by Randy Stern

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