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Mud run to raise money for cancer research

Courtesy photo
A group of women leave the starting line during a Dirty Girl Mud Run in El Paso, Texas. The event empowers women and raises money for breast cancer research, organizers say.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- It sounds, well, dirty. But organizers of the Dirty Girl Mud Run say it might not be what you think, and it raises money for cancer research.

"It's a really supportive, girl-friendly event," said Jenna Mueller, a spokeswoman for the mud run, which comes to Coonskin Park in Charleston on April 6. "It's fun. You get to be a kid again."

The mud run, in its third year, is designed to be fun and empowering for women, while raising money for breast cancer research, Mueller said. Mud run organizers teamed up with the National Breast Cancer Foundation, which receives a portion of registration fees for the run. Mueller said the event raised $250,000 last year, and organizers hope to more than double that this year.

Samantha Carney, sports and events sales manager for the Charleston Convention and Visitors Bureau, which helped organize the event locally, expects between 2,000 and 3,000 women from all over the country to take part in the mud run at Coonskin Park. Kanawha County Parks Director Jeff Hutchinson said the park will be closed the day of the mud run to accommodate participants, but the public is welcome to come and watch the event.

Parking will be provided at Capital High School and Laidley Field, and shuttle buses will provide transportation to Coonskin Park, Carney said.

Participants in the mud run form teams and pay a registration fee to enter, although cancer survivors take part for free. To register, visit www.godirtygirl.com.

"It's all women, it's all abilities and it's all ages," said Mueller, who has taken part in the event herself. "It's not competitive. In Colorado, I remember a 74-year-old woman who did it. Don't say you're too old."

The 5K course includes 12 different military-style obstacles, though women who don't think they can handle an obstacle are free to go around. Groups of women leave to run the course at 15-minute intervals, and typically include at least one cancer survivor or someone who's running on behalf of a loved one who has or had cancer, Mueller said.

"It's a run-walk-climb-crawl [event]," Carney said. "You'll experience it all during this event."

Carney said women at the Convention & Visitors Bureau have formed their own team -- Charlie West's Angels -- to take part in the mud run. They hope to field a team of about 40 women by the time the event gets here.

"We're all trying to work out and get on those treadmills to get ready," she said.

Last year, organizers held 15 mud runs, Mueller said. The event has become so successful that this year it's been expanded to 60. Hutchinson said organizers originally wanted to have the event at Coonskin in September, but the April opening came up instead.

The mud run will start at 8 a.m. April 6 and run until 5 p.m., organizers said.

Hutchinson said April is the perfect time to have the mud run, because Coonskin Park should not yet be in heavy use. He said the park will be reimbursed for lost revenue from the golf course and picnic shelter closures during the event. "But the real winner will be the local economy," he said.

Carney expects the mud run to have an economic impact of $65,000 in the area, because many of the participants will choose to stay in local hotels, eat at local restaurants and shop at local stores.Reach Rusty Marks at rustymarks@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1215.


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