By Gordon Dritschilo
Pink tutus and giant grins adorned numerous women as they slid into a puddle of mud Saturday.
They arrived in the puddle via an inflatable slide, the final obstacle in the Dirty Girl Mud Run.
“This is our third year coming to Killington, and every year it gets bigger,” said organizer Alena Han. “You have groups and groups of girls. We have people who come by themselves and these groups suck them in. … It’s all about ladies having fun in an event where they don’t feel pressed.”
A portion of the proceeds is donated to breast cancer charities, and breast cancer survivors are given free registrations.
Han said an estimated 2,500 women participated in the untimed obstacle-course event. The untimed 5k course featured 14 obstacles, such as monkey bars and a climbing wall.
“And, because we’re in Killington, there’s lots of vertical,” Han said. “It’s a challenge for many, but we do say if you walk around, we won’t tell.”
The course ended with a run through a massive pile of soap bubbles just before the finish line. The wind frequently sent large chunks of the foam flying, much to the delight of small children watching from the sidelines.
The event is open to women age 14 and up.
“You see women of all ages doing this,” Han said. “My mom did this two years ago for her 60th birthday. She ran it and she’s never run a single day in her life.”
Weather forecasts hadn’t looked favorable leading up to the event, but the morning had been good to them so far as they entered the final hour.
“I’m still holding on,” Han said. “I still have my fingers crossed. Last year it was frozen and it rained. This year it might still rain, but at least it’s warm. I’ll take this. I’ll take gloomy.”
Rain did finally start falling toward the end of the event. Women still on the course looked undaunted, and those who had finished did not hurry inside — a couple used the stream coming off the base lodge’s rain gutter as a shower.
“The hills were a little intense, but it was a good time,” said 22-year-old Gabby Mutini of Vergennes. “I feel much better now that I’ve finished.”
Mutini, a first-timer who said she participated due to “peer pressure,” was part of a group that identified their ringleader as 20-year-old Amanda Cousino of Ferrisburg.
“It’s a lot of fun for a good cause,” the mud-caked Cousino said. “Some of the hills were a little questionable. They just kept going up and up and up.”
The terrain made an impression on a number of runners.
“Those hills were,” Jessica Hall said, before abandoning words in favor of an exasperated noise.
Hall, 44, of Essex Junction, said it was her second time at the event.
“It was a little easier because I knew what to expect, but they change the route every time,” she said. “I just wanted to challenge myself and see if I could do it. I’d never done an obstacle course. I did it last year and it was empowering.”
After the hills, many of the runners said the biggest challenge was the monkey bars, which they said they had trouble gripping with muddy hands.
“I wouldn’t have gotten across anyway, but I would have at least made three,” Hall said.