Thursday, June 26, 2014 —
The national running event Shape Diva Dash made a local farm its midway stop for its tour this year.
After stopping in Colorado, Minnesota and two cities in Texas, the women-only, 5K obstacle course event came to Riverbend Farms in Midland on Saturday before continuing on to five other states.
“I love Riverbend Farms,” Daisy Payne, a runner from Stanly County, said.
“I’m glad that we can support a local farm this way.”
She said the event means a lot to the local running community, too.
“You don’t see many (big name) running events this close to home,” Payne said.
“You usually have to drive to big cities, but this is right on our doorstep.”
This is the first year the Shape Diva Dash has come not only to the area, but also to the state. Started in 2011 with a single event, the dash has now visited more than 25 cities over the course of four years.
“It’s grown very quickly,” Sharon Cutler, an event manager with the dash’s organizational group Adventure Fit, said.
“The demand for women-only events is growing every year.”
They’ve seen tens of thousands of participants since their inception and in 2013 they expanded the number of cities they visit from four to 10 to accommodate growing interest.
Cutler said the attraction to women is two-fold: It’s healthy, but it’s also a kind of getaway.
“They can leave the kids, the house, their cares for a few hours and just cut up with their girlfriends,” Cutler said.
While they encourage the ladies to push themselves, the race is not competitive. The first 10 to complete the course get a prize, but nobody is timed and no records are kept.
“We always have several walkers and we wouldn’t have it any other way,” Cutler said.
“It’s more about having a good time and some healthy fun.”
The majority of the 350 women who came out kept their spirits up with bright costumes. Dressed in everything from matching tie-dye outfits to neon tutus, whole groups stuck together to cheer each other on throughout the race.
“It’s encouraging, running with people you know,” Stanly County resident Amanda Pollard said.
Pollard ran with friend Kristi Miller of Raleigh, her daughter and her sister.
Miller actually heard about the race first and suggested the two of them run it as a way to have fun and catch up with each other.
Not only did it turn out to be a great idea, but it was great motivation for the course, Pollard said after the race.
“We kept each other going,” she said.
While Payne ran solo, she also got a lot of encouragement on the course. The people she found herself running with challenged her to keep a good pace and even cheered her on.
“It’s pretty awesome when you can get that from complete strangers,” Payne said.
She said having her name printed on the runner’s bibs also made a big impact.
“I’ve never really seen that, but it makes a big difference,” Payne said.
“They’re screaming your name and you feel like you have to reach that voice.”
As for the course itself, both Payne and Pollard’s team said they found it fun, but not overly exhausting.
“I was a little nervous about the obstacles at first, but they were fun,” Miller said.
This was her first obstacle course run, but she said she enjoyed crawling over cargo nets, balancing on seesaws and scaling the rock walls.
“It was actually a good way to break things up,” Miller said.
Payne, who often does other obstacle races such as the Spartan, said the Diva Dash was by far one of the most relaxed of those events of which she has been a participant.
“It’s like the light version,” Payne said, although admitting that it is a workout.
“But I didn’t feel like I was going to fall over.”
The heat was actually the biggest obstacle to overcome, both groups agreed. With a brief rain shower the night before, the air was muggy before the first wave of women set out at 9:30 a.m.
But would they do it again?
“I could see us doing this regularly,” Pollard said.
She and Miller are always looking for ways to get together.
“I’d do it if they came back,” Payne said.
Not only is it an opportunity for the community, but it’s also an opportunity to show her kids they can’t be couch potatoes if they want to keep up with Mom.
“Runs like this are about digging deep,” Payne said.
“And it’s always rewarding to do that.”
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