Race experience wasn’t necessary and women of all fitness levels jumped in. The only must-have to participate in the Dirty Girl Mud Run at the Lake County Fairgrounds was a good attitude and a supportive team to help you through the mud pits, climbing walls, fence jumping and tire obstacles along the 5K track.
“This is about fun, teams, and a celebration of sisterhood,” said race director Jimmy Gohsman for the Dirty Girl Run.
A total of 9,900 women signed up for the first-time weekend event in Lake County. The untimed, non-competitive race helps raise money for the National Breast Cancer Foundation.
“The high-energy here is awesome,” said Gohsman. “There are so many different fitness levels, and we have racers from age 14 to 72. It doesn’t matter how good you are, just that you’re here. It’s just a great opportunity to be with women, for women.”
“Fighting cancer is a family event – you need everyone’s support,” said Jeff Neal, of the National Breast Cancer Foundation. “The camaraderie that is formed here and the obstacles that family and friends face is what get you through the cancer fight and it will get you through this race.”
Kimberly Eshbaugh of Lake in the Hills can attest to that.
Eshbaugh is currently undergoing treatment for the breast cancer that spread to her bones. She has been fighting the battle since 2004, and is now on the medication Herceptin.
“The scientists for Herceptin have been researching this drug for ten years,” Eshbaugh said. “You realize how important these races are when it comes to funding treatment and research.”
“This medication that is letting people like me live my life, even though I have cancer,” she said as she waited for the rest of her team, the Pink Ladies, to work their way down the rope wall. “I feel good.”
Donna’s Dolls, a team of co-workers from Kenosha E School donned pink yarn wigs and rosy cheeks for their teammate Donna Murray, a breast-cancer survivor since 2007.
“They were there for me during that time, and now doing something like this is the fun part,” Murray said of the race. “It’s very much a relief to be able to laugh about this now.” She hugged her daughter as she spoke.
Julie Scheck of Gurnee, a two-time breast cancer survivor couldn’t wipe the smile off her face. Outfitted in purple t-shirts with her teammates the Purple Lady Lumps, Scheck said, “I feel excited, loved and supported to be here.”
Opportunity for Fun, Friendship and Family
Not all teams had cancer survivors but that didn’t make the day any less special or fun. This race was about girl-power, and women letting loose with team shirts and silly slogans, coordinating socks and headbands, even painted faces and tattoos.
The Muddy Lady Lumps of Chicago wearing shower caps and inflatable arm bands. “We want to be safe out there,” said Illiana Ramos, laughing. “This is such a different race and it’s just going to be so much fun!”
Girls Gone Muddy of Huntley used the event as an opportunity to meet new friends. Their team started with a Bunco group six months ago and snowballed into 25 people. “It’s great that race day is finally here and we’re able to all do this together,” said one member.
The group Cuffin’ Dirty made up of jailers from McHenry County just hoped to finish the obstacle course, as was the case with Flirtin’ with Dirt from Libertyville.
“How often do we get to play in the dirt?” said Maria Hilsmier of Libertyville. “We’re glad it’s not a competition and it’s going to be fun.”
About Dirty Girl
The event is a first for the area. To date, Illinois is the biggest market for the company, which began Dirty Girl runs last year in Wisconsin.
They give 2.5 percent of each racer’s registration to the National Breast Cancer Foundation. Last year the donation to NBCF totaled $50,000. This year’s goal is $250,000 in the 15 races scheduled across the country.
“Our goal is to keep growing this race and raising more money for research,” said Gohsman. Dirty Girl hopes to have races in up to 60 markets next year.
“Our mission is to save lives and provide mammograms and early detection,” said Neal. The funds from these Dirty Girl events go towards the 50-state outreach tour the National Breast Cancer Foundation is doing to provide these resources for low-income women.
“Early detection can save your life,” Neal said, “and until there is a cure, we won’t stop.”
Registration for the 2013 Dirty Girl Run at the Lake County Fairgrounds will open in about two weeks, Gohsman said. To register visit their website.
Visit Photo Gallery: Dirty Girl Mud Run for more photos of the event.