By Bobby Sisk, WBZ-TV

BOSTON (CBS) – As many New Englanders tried to stay in out of the cold, as many as 350 people ran the Boston Ninja Race along the Charles River Wednesday evening.

“We’re trying to prove a point that races can and should happen in all conditions,” said Brogan Graham, Co-founder of the grassroots workout group, November Project which put on the run. He did warn runners to layer-up, and dress appropriately for the conditions, but never considered calling it off. “We hoped it would be this cold,” Graham joked. “Some people are saying we sold ourselves to the devil because we do preach all conditions, no excuses,” he said. More than 400 people signed up for the race, with about 250 crossing the starting line. Others, dressed as ninjas, also took part.


Around the same time, across town, Nelson Bennett and his team loaded a van at Pine Street Inn on Harrison Avenue. The nighttime outreach team hit the streets earlier than normal to try and encourage the homeless to come inside. “The priority is to get folks in. At the very least extra blankets and extra warm clothing, hats, gloves,” Bennett said. The mission started 26 years ago after a death on a bitter cold night. “We go into situations and we save lives,” he added. Four area shelters, including Pine Street, have capacity for 700 people. Staff, though, won’t turn anyone away in this weather and set up cots when needed. “It is dangerous, especially in these conditions,” he said.


For firefighters, their already difficult job becomes even tougher in freezing temperatures. “The concern is now, that when we do get a fire, it is about ice. It is obviously going to be wet and ice will cake on ladders, on sidewalks and stairways and guys are more prone to go down,” said Captain Jim Welsh of the Boston Fire Department’s Rescue Company 1. “The enormous amount of water to mitigate a fire causes much more of a load on the building itself, which makes it much more prone to collapse,” he explained.

There is a great partnership between other departments, like the MBTA, which brings in buses to warm firefighters and fire victims on cold days and nights. Captain Welsh reminded homeowners of common cold-weather fire dangers. Keep space heaters at least three feet from upholstery, like furniture, and never bring a charcoal grill inside or use a cooking stove to stay warm.

Boston EMS put additional ambulances on the street Wednesday night. Chief James Hooley gave his staff this directive while out on calls. “If people have insufficient heat when we’re there, report that back as well through the mayor’s office we’ll try to get that remedied,” he said.

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