12/17/2013 12:21 EST | Updated 02/16/2014 05:59 EST

Real Canadian Heroes: Extreme Winter Sports That Will Challenge You

There are some very unique warm weather races available to anyone who would like to participate in something outside the norm, from the wife-carrying competitions (originating in Finland), to bathtub races, to cheese rolling contests and stiletto sprinting.

But what do we do in Canada when the landscape freezes over for a portion of the year? Many people choose to light a fire and curl up with a good book and some hot chocolate, but if you would like to get outside and dash through the snow, here is a look at some winter sporting options, including a few you may not have heard of before.

Dashing through the snow

One winter favourite is snowshoeing, or as it was known in earlier days, "racket racing." Snowshoes, for trekking across snowy terrain, are made out of everything from wood to rubber, and can be rented at most winter recreation resorts and facilities. Another desired snow dashing method is snowmobiling, though it's perhaps not for the faint of heart as helmets are required and the motorized sleds are essentially motorcycles on skis.

Ice fishing, ice sculpting and skijoring

For hobbies that focus more on technique than overt physical exertion, ice fishing and ice sculpting are viable options. The latter happens to offer both chainsaw and non-chainsaw divisions, for those of you who like a little extra horsepower. And of course, there is traditional ice skating and sledding, but if you're looking for a novel Nordic experience, look up skijoring.

Skijoring is a winter sport that doesn't have a clear place of origin. The sport involves a person being pulled on skis by one to three dogs, a horse, or occasionally even a motor vehicle. There is no sled involved, and the participant doesn't use reins or any other device to aid in steering. The two participants are joined only by rope and harnesses, and an open canvas of snow.

Extreme winter races

If you prefer to control your own speed and don't mind some frosty feet, then a winter race might be for you. There are several extreme winter races across the country covering all kinds of glacial distances, such as the Edmonton Winter Triathlon, the Winterman Running Series in Ottawa, and the Hypothermic Half Marathon held in Saskatoon, Halifax, Montreal, and many other cities.

If you want to feel on top of the world, an icicle-inducing option is the North Pole Arctic Marathon. Participants endure extreme temperatures of -30 degress and lower, running over frozen water, just six to twelve miles above the Arctic Ocean. Runners covering the remote 26.2 miles may wish they had a dog or horse pulling them to the finish! These events are classified as extreme sports for a reason, and give new meaning to stone cold competition!

And if the book and fireplace option is your activity of choice over the long winter, rest assured there are loads of choices adorning bookshelves and virtual libraries over the holiday shopping season. Ah, holiday shopping; another activity that can be classified as an extreme winter sport!

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