University City

Whitewater Race Series offers races with distinct personalities

The fact that she likes to run and that she lives in the jogging-friendly Myers Park area is not lost on Brooke Porsch.

But the 30-year-old oncology nurse usually finds an alternative when she wants to take in a few miles.

Preferring trail running to her neighborhood’s tree-lined streets and sidewalks, Porsch loads her Alaskan malamute into her car and heads to the U.S. National Whitewater Center a couple times a week instead.

In addition to occasional recreational runs, Porsch is a regular participant in the Whitewater Center’s annual Race Series, a yearlong series of competitions that takes creative advantage of the center’s nature-based amenities.

The Whitewater Race Series’ next event, Feb. 15, is the Frigid 5K Run and Plunge: a run through the center’s single-track and double-track dirt trails that ends with an invitation to dive into its signature manmade whitewater river.

Preston Schoonover says he runs most of the 5K events in the Whitewater Race Series and is not averse to the events in colder temperatures, including the Frigid 5K.

The 44-year-old University City resident also participated in the We Believe Santa 5K Trail Run in December with his 7-year-old daughter, McKenzie.

The Whitewater Center has offered the series for several years, but the 2012 schedule of four events tripled to 12 in 2013.

Starting with the Rumble in the Concrete Jungle on Jan. 11, this year’s schedule includes 14 races, each with a distinct personality.

“We went from zero-to-60 in one year … and pulled it off in a good, quality, productive way,” said Adam Bratton, the Whitewater Center’s sponsorships and events director. “We had some success (with the series last year) and decided we wanted to add a couple of events this year.

“We wanted to have everyone covered. We didn’t want anyone to say that there wasn’t anything for me.”

Last year, the events ranged from the Amphibious Duathlon drawing fewer than 100 competitors to the Color Me Green 5K color run pulling in nearly 1,300 people.

Bratton says some contestants are regular competitors, while others may compete in only a handful of events throughout the year.

Porsch has been running in Whitewater Series Races – mostly 5Ks – for about four years, and said she participates in one every couple months. She’s used to running in 10K and half-marathon road races, she said, so she is looking forward to stretching the distance of her Whitewater races this year.

“My preference is doing trails over roads any day,” she says.

Even though she is a Whitewater Series veteran, Porsch is looking forward to the new experience of the Time Laps 24-hour relay race in May. Runners may be part of teams of up to 12 members, and points are awarded to teams based on the number of miles they log and the difficulty of the course they run.

Like Porsch, Andrea Hildebrand is an experienced Whitewater Series competitor who is anticipating trying something new this year. The 42-year-old Steele Creek resident is looking forward to Tuck Fest, a three-day festival in April comprised of numerous land and water competitions and demonstrations including trail races, a dog jumping competition and a wakeboarding session.

An adventurous type, Hildebrand won her age group in the 2012 Dirty Dozen Obstacle Trail Race, which includes jumping, crawling and climbing across 12 obstacles.

Richard Dulin, a 34-year-old from Concord, claims to be “an obstacle guy,” so he, too, is drawn to the Dirty Dozen. But he also doesn’t want pass up the other four races he participated in last year: the Amphibious Duathlon, the Brew Dash 6K, the Memorial Day Trail Race and the Labor Day Trail Race.

“I have been going to the Whitewater Center just since last January,” said Dulin. “I like it because it’s close (to where I live) and because of the people.

“They have a good thing going on. It’s an adrenaline junky’s playground.”