Early in the morning of July 20, 2013, before we even knew about the tornado that had ripped through our campus just a few hours earlier, six faculty and staff from Ursuline College started driving toward an off-roading course in Garrettsville, Ohio in the drizzling rain. We had been planning this outing for months. Five of us in Nursing had formed a walking team on the Arrows Walking Club in the fall of 2012 and later, on a whim, signed up for a 5K called the Dirty Girl Mud Run. I will confess here and now that it was my idea, and that the only way I (Patti Stephens) was able to convince Betsy Beach Mosgo, Christine Wynd, Kathy Rogers, and Becky Mitchell to go along with me was to ensure them that 1) we did not have to run the course (we would walk it) and 2) there was a detour option around every obstacle.
The Dirty Girl Mud Run is similar to other obstacle course runs that have become popular in recent years, with one main difference: the goal is not competition, but team-work. This event is also only open to women, and a portion of registration fees are donated to support the early detection of breast and ovarian cancer (see below or visitgodirtygirl.com for more information). For these reasons, I thought it would be a perfect activity for a walking team from a women’s college! We also invited others in the Arrows Walking Club to register with us, and were thrilled when Sue Kramer from the Registrar’s Office decided to join our team, which we had dubbed “Nursulines.”
Several of us started driving that morning at approximately 6:45 a.m. and soon received the text message alerts about the tornado at the school. This is mainly what we discussed while driving and meeting in the parking area before our heat of the event began. There was a steady drizzle, which didn’t dampen our spirits nearly as much as it drenched our custom-made nurse caps and fuzzy pink mustaches, nearly all of which were gone by the time we reached the finish line!
Because of the record rainfall this summer, the course, which is normally for Jeeps and other off-road vehicles, was much wetter than usual. The water obstacles, aptly dubbed “H2OMG,”were much deeper than normal and we helped each other through them in various ways, such as sending a scout ahead to announce the location of particularly large, jagged, or slippery rocks. We also held on to each other for balance throughout many portions of the course. At this point, Christine Wynd could be heard asking, “Whose idea was this again?”
There were horizontal and vertical rope obstacles, mud pits, steep hills, inflatable tubes to crawl through, and giant slides. Amazingly, we all made it through the course with only minor scrapes and bruises, plus a few cases of whiplash from the last giant inflatable slide. Not every team member attempted every obstacle, but no one had to do an obstacle alone. Kathy Rogers commented that the “feeling of bonding” due to the “common goal” was what made this event exciting for her. I, too, was surprised by how much we had to depend on each other to get through the course. I had envisioned a fun event which would be a nice team-building activity; I had not realized how hard we would have to work not only individually but collectively to get through all of the various obstacles. Becky Mitchell’s rope-climbing research paid off as she coached us on how to get up the vertical rope ladders, and watching the teams ahead of us helped us strategize how to cross the vertical rope obstacle as well. The ropes weren’t the most challenging obstacles, however; the “Utopian Tubes” challenge, which consisted of crawling on hands and knees in the dark through knee-deep mud full of stones (and who knows what else) was painful both physically and mentally!
After our triumphant celebration at the finish line (see photo of us covered in mud), several of us stopped by the campus on our way home to view the damage from the tornado. Sue Kramer waxed philosophical about the parallel between the way the tornado spread nature all over the campus that day and the way our Dirty Girl Mud Run team ended up covered “in nature” (as neurotic TV detective Monk would say). To carry the analogy one step further, I saw how our walking team had to work together to overcome the physical obstacles which blocked our path on the course; similarly, our Ursuline Community will need to work together to overcome the obstacles that mother nature imposed on us during the tornado. Betsy Beach reminded us repeatedly that the Dirty Girl Mud Run was “not a nature walk” and later commented that “facing challenges and overcoming obstacles is the Ursuline way,” which is also a great thing to remember at this difficult time of recovery from the tornado.
With the joint goal of empowering women to lead healthy lifestyles, Dirty Girl and Bright Pink will urge the hundreds of thousands of women who participate annually in Dirty Girl events to be proactive with their breast and ovarian health.
Dirty Girl is a for-profit company that believes strongly in the cause of finding a cure for breast cancer, in educating women about health and in supporting cancer victims and survivors. Dirty Girl will be contributing $250,000 to Bright Pink in 2013 to further this mission.
Dirty Girl Mud Run also provides free registrations to cancer survivors who want to muck it up in the mud at one of the 60 events across the county.
Dirty Girl is honored to have Bright Pink as an official charity partner and we look forward to sharing in their mission by encouraging this critical mass of women to understand the signs, symptoms, and risk factors of breast and ovarian cancer.