Veterans of the Polar Bear Run around Lake Waramaug have survived snow squalls, icy roads, wicked winds whipping across the frozen lake and, occasionally, even a balmy winter's day or two.

In the grand scheme of things, Sunday's 27th edition of the perennial favorite for regional runners won't be remembered for its weather.

Yet likely nearly all of the 377 runners who kicked home to complete the 7.6-mile tour of Waramaug will attest to the beauty of the run and enjoyment of a day shared with fellow runners.

"I feel many runners who run throughout the winter really look forward to the Polar Bear Run," said Wallie Jahn, who has served as race director since the early 1990s. "It gives them a reason to keep training."

The competitive aspect is very evident, too, among the frontrunners. as they race through corners of New Preston, Warren and Kent.

Tim Perry, 26, of Bethel and Asher Brandt, 19, of Orange cruised the lake nearly abreast throughout the race and finished 1-2 in respective times of 40:50 and 40:51.

Ex-champ Joe Lemay, 43, closed third at 41:16.

Paul Dolan, 32, of New Milford was the Greater New Milford area leader with his ninth-place time of 46:42.

Claudia Nero, 38, of Hopewell Junction, N.Y. checked in fifth overall in 43:41 to claim women's laurels over Eileen Combs, 32, who finished 13th in 47:26.

Among the divisional champions were Lisa Quinlan, 30, of New Milford in the women's 30-39 age group; Stephen Randolph, 60, of New Milford in the men's 60-69 division; and Ann Quackenbos, 60, of New Preston in the women's 60-69 division.

"It was a great day to run around the lake," reflected Mr. Jahn. "I feel everyone enjoyed their run."

For the order of finish and the divisional leaders, check

-- Norm Cummings