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Dirty girls run a-muck at Coonskin Park

Kenny Kemp
Members of the "Living the Dirty Dream" team crawl through the mud during Saturday's Dirty Girl Mud Run at Coonskin Park. The traveling noncompetitive event is a fundraiser for breast cancer research and Saturday's race was a first for Charleston.
Kenny Kemp
Lashann Messer of Tennessee and Chrystal Smith of Kentucky participate in the Dirty Girl Mud Run. About 2,700 women took part in the event.
Kenny Kemp
Runners leave the starting gate for their run through the mud and other obstacles set up for the event.
Kenny Kemp
Mud run participants bounce down one of the many obstacles set up for them.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- For Christina Stowers and Toni Risk, two things were enough motivation to get dirty Saturday morning.A love for their mother and for mud. "We like to have fun and play in the mud," said Risk, 44, of Charleston. "Our mother always called us her mud babies. We've been playing in the mud our whole lives."So the sisters joined about 2,700 other women for the Dirty Girl Mud Run, held in Charleston for the first time Saturday at Coonskin Park. Portions of the proceeds from the event benefit the National Breast Cancer Foundation.The two, who sported bright pink wigs, made up a team named Susie's Mud Babies, in honor of their mother, who was diagnosed with cancer while pregnant with the women's younger brother. She survived cancer but has since passed away.Saturday's Dirty Girl Mud Run was one of 60 such events to be held nationwide this year. So far, about 110,000 women have participated since its beginnings in 2011, race director Amy Lessner said.On average, 8,000 women participate in each race, but Lessner said she was pleased with Charleston's lower attendance. "This is a really good turnout for this race," Lessner said. "We're in a new city . . . we're really happy with the numbers."The noncompetitive, untimed run has obstacles that range from cargo nets to mud pits and inflatable obstacles. Participants can skip the obstacles if they want."[The run] is basically for women of all athletic abilities," Lessner said. "To get women out and moving and having fun."Risk said the running course was challenging.
"I told [Stowers] I'm used to running five miles, but this was the hardest three miles I've ever done," she said.Lashann Messer of Morristown, Tenn., and formerly of Williamson, and her friend, Chrystal Smith of Pikeville, Ky., were two members of a 28-woman team called Dirty Little Mamas.Messer just lost 70 pounds and said participating in the event was a part of a healthier life for her."It's the first of many races," she said.
Dirty Girl events will contribute $500,000 to the National Breast Foundation for the year, Lessner said.It's too soon to say if Charleston will host the event again. Lessner said decisions about event sites are made based on attendance numbers.If it were up to friends Kasey Tucker, Mikale Poole and Sonya Drucker, though, the city would host the event again."We don't get enough of these activities in Charleston," Drucker said.The women were part of a six-woman team called the Muddy Jugs."It was fun," Tucker said. "A little rough, I have a few minor injuries . . . but, no pain, no gain.
"I just came because I like to play in the mud and this was an excuse to do so."Reach Lori Kersey at or 304-348-1240.
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