Reviewed By: Warren Dickey Date Reviewed: 02/16/2011 Review Type: Trail Barefoot Friendliness: 2 Above Average Location: Withlacoochee River Park, Dade City, Florida 12449 Withlacoochee Blvd Dade City, FL See map: Google Maps Picture: Dances With Dirt (DWD) is a good run for those not very experienced with trail running. The general info off the DWD website is below the dotted line but I’ll provide some personal commentary from the race I did this weekend. It looks like this is run in at least four States and the link to the main website is http://www.danceswithdirt.com/. I ran the DWD half-marathon this past Saturday (12 Feb) as a training trail run for a 50 miler I’m running in April. DWD also offers a 50 miler, 50K, full-marathon, and added a 10K this year. It was February 12th and the temp was in the upper 40s when we began and in the low 60s when we finished. Bright blue sky with a smattering of clouds. Very pleasant weather. I ran the first 11 miles in Luna Huarache sandals with the Equus laces and the last two miles barefoot. Despite how tough the course sounds in the description below it’s really just a trail run on sandy trails through pinewoods and a little bit of swamp. There are a couple of hills but nothing too tiring. It probably would have been a different story if I was doing the full-marathon or the 50-miler but the half-marathon was pleasant. For brief periods you do have to go off-trail as the course transitions the runner from one trail to another but the transition isn’t really all that rough. This course would probably be suitable for an experienced barefoot runner that has done minimal barefoot trail running. I ran the last two miles barefoot and I haven’t practiced barefoot trail running at all. Only trail running with minimalist shoes. The most dramatic thing about the course is a small river crossing but it’s very easy and very safe. Part of the course runs along the edge of the Green Swamp. It was cool enough there was no fear of snakes but there are some tough spots from a footing perspective. For a barefoot runner it’s a bit treacherous because of the ankle-deep undergrowth that doesn’t allow an unobstructed view of the ground. This gave me a hard time as I ran through the last part of this barefoot and was concerned with stepping on something puncturing or slamming my foot down on one of the small Cypress “knees” that you normally find in Florida swamps. The staff is very supportive and there is always a cheer at the finish. The aid stations had plenty of water, sports drink, and different types of food. I can’t remember how far apart they were stationed but I believe it was every three miles. There was plenty of parking and the parking was well laid out. Keep in mind that the address for this thing only helps you find the State Park. To get to the race HQs you have to keep following the park roads around to the right. Each finisher gets a medal, a really nice tech T-shirt, and a coupon to eat some good BBQ after the race. The winners of each race get a big skeleton gator head. The winners of each Age Division also win either a coffee mug or a DWD folding chair. I was 2nd in my Age Division so I won a decent little, royal blue folding chair. Lodging is relatively close. The Hampton Inn is what DWD advertises and it IS very nice but you can stay at the Microtel ($63) that’s about 5 minutes further away. This particular Microtel has won “region hotel of the year” for several years running, is very clean, and well-priced. It also has a Publix grocery store across the street and a Ruby Tuesday literally right next door. My wife and I had dinner in the Ruby Tuesday and it was a pleasant 2 minute walk back to our room. Overall the Florida Dances With Dirt Race is a good time, very laid back, and has some good conveniences for someone that wants to trail run but isn’t a hardcore trail-runner. Stay Bare, Warren ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ What is Dances with Dirt? Yo Runners, What is DWD, besides one a those ak-row-nims for Dances With Dirt? You must be livin' in a cave if ya ain't heard of the DWD Relay and Ultramarathons! I'll tell ya what it ain't, it ain't no place for wimps and it ain't a place for pansy, "don't get my shoes dirty" runners afraid of a few roots and cliffs. Dances With Dirt 5 Person Team Relay explained, if that's possible ... 5 Person Team Relay, each member running 2 of 10 legs. Each leg averages 5 miles so over the course of a day, each runner covers around 10 miles. Teams drive a vehicle to the next exchange and the fire drill continues ... An extreme course, team themes, vehicle decorations, costumes and endless planning are the back drop for an adventure that adds up to much more than its parts. Each leg has or will become legendary. Legs from the Hell event with names like "Gator Bate", "Spider Webs" and "Yikes" have become part of running legend. Each leg is described and rated in difficulty so the team can meet beforehand and choose who to abuse ... we mean, who to run what. Basically, a difficult, wicked on and off trail run with stupid spots. Stupid spots include swamp crossings, river crossings, hills too steep to climb and can only be a butt slide down. Did we mention poison ivy, thorns, poor marking, bad (no) footing, a waiver that mentions your death 3 times and that we charge you for this? The legs start and finish at exchange areas where the team is waiting to tag off and send the next runner on their way. One vehicle per team, a vehicle that will be trashed and smell bad at days end, Ideally, 4 wheel drive but we'll be there to push you out if the parking is muddy! DWD Ultra Marathons 50 Miles, 50K, Full and Half Marathons of rugged crap running ... hiking. Love it or hate it, it's a serious achievement. The Ultra 50 Mile starts in the dark ... so you can finish in the light! All events are fully aided about every 3 -6 miles. Medical support, communications, sponsors and the endless hours put in by the 100 volunteers of the faithful, hard workin' hard livin' hard runnin' Dirt Crew make it possible.