The day dawned cloudy March 1 and with sub-freezing temperatures.

Hours later, amid a gathering snowstorm, there they were, more than 300 strong, dedicated runners toeing the line for the 31st edition of the Polar Bear Run.

The unlikely circumstance at Lake Waramaug actually took place.

"I can't tell you how crazy it was," reported Dave Dunleavy, the race director and guardian of one of the region's most iconic sports events.

"All indications were the weather would turn south in the afternoon," he recounted, "and then, at 9:30 a.m., here comes the snow. Crazy."

Still, given the go-ahead by state police to hold the race, Dunleavy and his corps of volunteer helpers welcomed runners from throughout the region.

"Runners loved it. They just felt that this is why it's called the Polar Bear Run," he said. "It was surreal. Runners coming up the main drive to the (Lake Waramaug Country Club) clubhouse, walking in the shadows of snow.

"And you know what," Dunleavy said, "they all wanted to run. And (state trooper) Steve Sordi was great. He said let's get the race off on time and let's get it going, and we did."

Shortly thereafter, after his usual quick tour of the lake, two-time defending champion William Sanders, 27, of Wethersfield, claimed his third straight title in 42:14.

Women's laurels were earned by Marie Davenport, 40, of Guilford, who clocked 45:23 to finish seventh overall among 314 who completed the snowy trek.

The first Greater New Milford area runner was ex-Shepaug Valley High standout Dominic Gillen, 30, of New Preston, who checked in at 46:58 for 10th place overall.

Capturing division honors were Ed Wolfe of Roxbury and Sean Parker of Bridgewater, who both clocked 58:04 in the male aged 19 and younger group, and Greg Pelican, 56, of Washington, who placed 15th overall in 50:56 to win the male 50-59 age division.

For more photos, visit www.newmilfordspectrum.com.

-- Norm Cummings