The third annual Dauber Dash led hundreds to Henricus Historical Park Saturday morning, transforming the living history site into a haven for runners of all ages and ability levels.
A 5-mile run through the recreated Citie of Henricus and the Dutch Gap Conservation Area, the dash paid homage to the daubers who built mud walls and houses at the settlement’s original site 400 years ago.
Six hundred-plus runners from around the country participated in the inevitable muddiness of this year’s event, which was sponsored by Richmond’s Sports Backers – an organization whose mission is promoting healthy lifestyles to residents of the Richmond region, said event director Megan Schultz.
“And this is just a fun way to do it,” she said, “because it gets people out and moving; and mud attracts a different kind of demographic, but it’s really meant for everyone. People love to get dirty – it’s kind of like being a kid again.”
The first wave of runners took off promptly at 9 a.m. from the starting line not far from a cliff overlooking the majestic James River.
By about 9:35 the winning runner, 17-year-old Avery Martin, a Midlothian resident, emerged from nowhere like a ghost and found himself caked in our precious county mud after scurrying through the race’s final obstacle – Buttercup’s Mud Pit – some 60 feet from the finish line. His final time was 35:56.
“It feels pretty good to be where I need to be in my training,” Avery said afterwards, who is a cross-country runner at Fork Union Military Academy. “I’m in better shape than last year when I ran the race.”
Not far behind was Abby Badura, 18, also a native of Midlothian and a competitive cross-country runner, who was the first female runner to finish the race. A rising freshman at Princeton University, Badura finished in 36:48.
For the next hour, various groups of runners crawled through the final mud pit; some staying clean as possible, others wallowing in the mud or dunking their friends and loved ones in it completely.
And then there was the Mud Guppies Kids’ race, a mile run through a small fragment of the main course for children aged 8-14. In less than 10 minutes the 11-year-old Mathew Briggs was the first to dart across the finish line; it was exactly one year after he finished the race in second place.
Charles Grant, acting executive director of Henricus, liked having so many different kinds of people visit his place of work.
“This is a family-friendly place where we have not only great history, we have great scenery and great sporting events,” said Grant. “I think we want people to know this is a destination place – a place where you can come and do a little bit of everything. Now Henricus is on these people’s minds, and now they know all that Henricus has to offer.”
For more information on all that Henricus Historical Park has to offer, visit www.henricus.org  or call 748-1613.