About 1,200 people braved 42-degree water in Friday's annual Resolution Run 5K & Polar Bear Dive at Seattle's Magnuson Park.

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Like being punched in the stomach.

That’s how Angela Rudig describes the moment she dived into Lake Washington on New Year’s Day at the end of the Resolution Run 5K & Polar Bear Dive at Seattle’s Magnuson Park.

But then, she claims, it felt pretty good once she immersed herself in the water. Not cold at all, she said at the end of the run, all the while looking a little forlorn, drenched and shivery.

Bryan Knutson wasn’t so game. He finished his run looking suspiciously dry. When he heard announcers say the lake was 42 degrees, he decided that sounded too painful.

“There’s a fine line between bravery and stupidity,” Knutson said, while eating spoonfuls of post-race chili. “I thought about it, but then I just wanted to be done. After two miles, I wanted to be somewhere else anyway. It’s a good way to start the year — it can only get better from here.”

About 1,800 people showed up for Friday’s run, a record number, according to organizers. More than two-thirds ended the run with the bracing plunge at the end.

Although the new decade dawned raining and blustery, race director Brian Oster said conditions were “by far the warmest” in the six years since they introduced the lake dive.

Some people decided to run in nothing but their Speedos. Others brought their strollers, or their dogs, or wore their party hats and glasses from the night before.

For Erin Scherer and her friend Jenny Uhrich, the lines between 2009 and the new decade were a little blurred. Scherer had been out until 4 a.m. barhopping and partying — Uhrich until 5 a.m. Uhrich says she isn’t making any resolutions this year: “I don’t want to be lying to myself — I will break them,” she said.

Others had promised themselves the new year would herald a fresh start.

“I’m going to run more, really live it up and spend some more time with my kids,” said Kelly Reid, of Mercer Island.

Asked at the start of the run if she was going to take the plunge, Reid said: “I haven’t decided yet, but now that you ask, I think I have to do it.”

Peer pressure did seem to be playing a big role. When asked, many runners said it was a friend, a brother or a co-worker who had persuaded them to take the dip. With some cajoling over the public-address system, race announcers even managed to shame some dry runners into the lake.

Some found their courage in other ways. John Erickson, of Seattle, and his friends could be found in the beer garden steeling themselves before the race started.

Others had some help — including 5-year-old Malachi Deml, who rode his bike through the course, with his dad guiding him, and then got onto his dad’s shoulders for the swim, the water lapping over the top of his rubber boots.

He had a simple assessment afterward: “cold.”

Nick Perry: 206-515-5639 or nperry@seattletimes.com