On Saturday, more than 1,300 people from the local community sprinted, ran, jogged or walked their way through the Martin Marietta Cumming Quarry off of Ronald Reagan Boulevard in south Forsyth, some competing fiercely and others just having fun during the 10th annual Boulder Dash.
According to Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce Director of Tourism Michelle Daniels, over the past 10 years, the Boulder Dash has become the most well attended and unique race in the Forsyth County area, regularly drawing huge crowds and support from the local community.
Daniels said the fact that the race runs through such a strange and varied landscape, through nearly two and a half miles at the active rock quarry, is a huge draw for runners who otherwise would never have been able to catch a glimpse at what goes on inside the sprawling site.
"Consistently, everyone always says how much fun this race is and how unique it is. There's a lot of first-timers that run this race specifically because they want to see the inner workings of the quarry,” Daniels said. "This is the only time of the year that the public is actually allowed access inside the quarry.”
And as far as they’ve been able to figure out, the Boulder Dash is the only race in the state of Georgia that actually runs through an active rock quarry, she said.
But after curiosity about the quarry wears off, Daniels said that the other fun components of the Boulder Dash, like awards, medals and the Spring Fling Celebration at the finish line, keep drawing people back year after year.
"We've implemented some really fun finisher medals, so all of the participants who cross the finish line today get a real fun, unique ‘Dino-mite’ finisher medal,” Daniels said. "It is for all ages, from the beginning runner to those who are experienced, professional runners. It is truly for all ages and all experience levels.”
The Chamber partnered with a new team of race coordinators to infuse more technology into the race and give racers their results faster.
“Those who signed up online prior to the race could check a box and literally within 20 seconds of crossing the finish line they get a text with their results,” she said. “So as the races have progressed, we've tried to progress with it and bring something unique and fun to the Forsyth County community."
As racers crossed the finish line on Saturday, Lynn Jackson, administrator of Northside Hospital Forsyth, the race’s title sponsor, said that healthy events like the Boulder Dash where people of all ages and skill levels are getting out and enjoying the community is part of what makes Forsyth County the healthiest county in Georgia.
"That’s because so many people come out and support this great event,” Jackson said. “It helps people of all ages, all sizes, all capacities, to run. They get out here and walk, run and have a good time with their families.”
Jackson said that among the 1,300 racers that participated on Saturday, there were more than 300 young runners from Girls on the Run North Georgia, a group which aims to inspire girls to be “joyful, healthy and confident” through a running and character-building program.
After the race, Girls on the Run North Georgia Executive Director Cathie Brugnoli said that each of their 300 girls and 72 volunteer coaches had a wonderful time participating in an event that so closely mirrors the group’s curriculum and values.
“Our girls had a wonderful time. The Spring Fling and the run itself is a great way to celebrate the girls’ success this season,” Brugnoli said. “Our girls feel that they can conquer anything after this event. They love all the spectators and walk away with the belief that they can do anything.”
Jackson said that groups like Girls on the Run and events like the Boulder Dash model and reinforce healthy behaviors for the next generation, allowing them to be role models for their friends and peers.
“Research has really demonstrated that if you can change behaviors by fifth grade, then that's a lifelong behavior," Jackson said. “Those girls are then modeling that behavior for their peers, who then get involved in running themselves.”
For anyone that hasn’t participated in the Boulder Dash, Daniels said that there’s always next year to get involved or participate. When the time of year rolls around again, she said that information on registration will be published widely online by the Chamber.
“This truly is one of those bucket list race events that you really should just come and enjoy, even if you're not an experienced runner," she said. "Check it off the Forsyth County bucket list."
2019 Boulder Dash 5k/10k Winners
Female Overall, 5K: Amy Miller
Female Masters, 5K: Corie Stawicki
Male Overall, 5K: Caleb Hall
Male Masters, 5K: Bruce Catanzarite
Female Overall, 10K: Lauren Fulton
Female Masters, 10K: Marcia Keller
Male Overall, 10K: Patrick Ekhlas
Male Masters, 10K: Phil Demarte