DAVID CUCCHIARA | DAILY NEWS
DAVID CUCCHIARA | DAILY NEWS

Archived Story

ALFRESCO: Running: A new appreciation for dirt

Published 2:56pm Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Dream Factory Dirty Dash 5K worth every ache and pain

I’ll be the first to admit, I hate getting dirty. If there’s even the faintest of aromas expelling from my body, a shower is inevitable and, in my case, psychologically necessary.

But when I heard where the funds from Saturday’s Dirty Dash 5K in Greenville were going to, there wasn’t a chance in hell I’d miss it.

The event was organized and funded by Dream Factory, an organization that collects funds to grant the wishes of chronically and terminally ill children all across the country. Race organizer Jerry Fisher told me prior to the race that 90 percent of all proceeds go towards granting the wishes of children in eastern North Carolina, an impressive number when you take other foundations and charities into consideration.

Another element that factored into my participation was a little girl. Callie Dawson, the daughter of Nancy Wallace, is from Washington and will be heading to Disney World as a result of Dream Factory. In my humble opinion, there isn’t a better cause out there.

Also participating in the race was Team Hackney, consisting of local residents Yancy Warren, Shane Harris and his son Austin, who managed to finish the race in about 35 minutes.

The course consisted of 15 obstacles laid spontaneously through 5 kilometers of backwoods trails. At the finish line were buckets of ice-cold waters, energy drinks and Bud Lights. But before one could immerse themselves in a refreshing, bubbly alcoholic beverage, he first had to navigate the icy waters of a dumpster.

The DJ signaled the start of the race and me, Yancy, Shane, Austin and my girlfriend Roxanne Medlin-Wilkins took off towards the dumpster. We climbed the makeshift wooden ladder and, without even dipping a toe in to test the temperature, jumped, wading our way through the bone-chilling ice to the other side.

Team Hackney from all completed the race. Left to right: Austin Harris, Shane Harris, Yancy Warren. DAVID CUCCHIARA | DAILY NEWS
Team Hackney from all completed the race. Left to right: Austin Harris, Shane Harris, Yancy Warren. DAVID CUCCHIARA | DAILY NEWS

As Yancy, Shane and Austin powered their way through the trail’s opening, I found it increasingly difficult to get my leg muscles unfrozen, but eventually I managed.

The trail was windy, full of jutting roots and steep inclines. I crawled my way under low-lying wire, non-barbed, and slid down muddy drops successfully.

Then, one of the most intimidating obstacles greeted me: a tight, mud-filled tunnel made from wire, rope and leaves that was so disgusting, people who emerged from the other side were covered from head to toe in muck. This was the ultimate test of my obsessive compulsiveness, and I passed, making it to the end with nothing but a few scrapes.

As for difficulty, the wooden wall was by far the toughest challenge … not to mention there were two of them. Each was probably about 10-12 feet, give or take a few inches, and the runner was required to jump, grab the top of the wall and force themselves over. It reminded me of something out of a United States Army commercial.

I called upon my inner warrior and, somehow, managed to get myself over the wall. The second one, located towards the end of the course, took me two tries, the first being embarrassingly unsuccessful.

In the end, all five of us, caked in mud, finished the race and cracked one of the most fulfilling beers ever consumed (Austin, being under 21, chose the energy drink).

We talked of the course, its difficulties, subtleties and surprises, and reminisced as we sipped out beverages.

It was an experience and cause well worth the next day’s (and, as I write this, today’s) pains.

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