Because we were having such a wonderful time with Grant, Barbie and their daughter Catie in Virginia Beach, we didn’t make it to DC to do the Diva Dash. Instead, I ended up doing the Undy 5000 a week later. It wasn’t an obstacle race, but it was notable because it was my first event with a dog. While Mike and Sadie cheered from the sidelines, our little athlete Meeko was my running buddy. He did great. At the halfway mark, I joked with the race volunteers that if Meeko was running by himself, we’d already have finished.
The Undy 5000 is a family-friendly, dog-friendly 5K run/walk that was created by the Colon Cancer Alliance as a fundraising event. All through the course there are informational placards about colon cancer, and the finish area has a giant blow-up colon showing how malignant polyps and advanced cancer look. Participants are encouraged to run in their “undies” to bring attention to the area affected by colon cancer. We were so busy doing stuff in DC that I didn’t have a chance to go shopping for a top-notch costume. So, the night before the race, I created an outfit with a polka-dotted tank top, lace-trimmed boxer shorts, and striped tights. Not my best look, but it worked. Meeko was the real star of the show anyway.
The race was held in Rock Creek Park. Not only is the park stunning, but it also has quite a history.
For millennia, American Indians quarried rock outcroppings to make tools, fished the creek, and hunted wild game in the woodlands. In the 1600s and early 1700s, European Americans claimed title to the land. As tobacco farming and African American slavery became more widespread, Georgetown was chartered at the mouth of Rock Creek. In the late 1700s and into the 1800s, tobacco farming exhausted the soil, resulting in many farmers switching to wheat and corn production. Gristmills, the most successful being Peirce Mill, were constructed along Rock Creek to convert grain into flour.
The Rock Creek area was deforested during the U.S. Civil War. Logs and branches were felled and then laid out systematically throughout the soon-to-be park by Union soldiers to make a Confederate march through the valley impossible. Civil War fortifications in and around the valley bombarded General Jubal Early’s Confederate troops during the July, 1864 Battle of Fort Stevens.
In 1890, Rock Creek Park became one of the first federally managed parks. Since then, citizens seeking recreation and re-creation in nature have sought out this 1700 acre park.
Doing events like this is one of the many wonderful things about our nomadic lifestyle. I am fortunate to run in lovely, historic places all around the country, places I’d normally never get to experience.