DADE CITY — A horn will blow about 9 a.m. Saturday, and thousands of eager souls from around the Tampa Bay area will begin racing through bogs of mud, over gigantic cargo nets and down towering slides into more mud.
Tons of mud.
And in the middle of this 7-mile, mud/obstacle fest at Little Everglades Ranch, endearingly called Savage Race, will be … Team Beef.
That's right, Team Beef — six women from the Florida Cattlewomen's Association who promote beef as a nutritional star — will compete for the first time as an organized group for several reasons, including: to help strengthen their 30- to 40-something-year-old bodies, and to show they can still hang with the toughest of younger mudders.
So far, so good.
Following a rigorous six-week workout plan and a strict diet that includes plenty of lean beef, Team Beef has gotten slimmer, stronger, quicker and more confident.
Perhaps the most inspiring of the six Team Beef stories comes from the member who lives closest to the race, Dade City's Reyna Hallworth, who in the past few years has been bucked off a colt and suffered a broken arm, which led to a limited range of motion on nerve damage in that arm.
"This makes doing pushups pretty difficult sometimes," said the 35-year-old Hallworth, who also has battled bursitis in her left foot after previously training for a half marathon. "There have been plenty of times where I thought, 'Maybe this isn't a good idea.' "
The good news for Hallworth is that in the face of her nagging doubts, she has received constant encouragement from Team Beef, and she remains determined to toe the Savage Race line.
"I've learned a lot of things in this process," said Hallworth, a former president of the Cattlewomen's Association and a beef extension scientist on staff at the Range, Cattle Research and Education Center for the University of Florida. "I think so often we believe that if you are not the top finisher then you have failed. But in reality if I have to walk part of the race, or pick myself out of the mud, or finisher farther back, then that's perfectly okay.
"It also really helps knowing that (Team Beef) is completely supporting each other. Many of the obstacles require a team effort and I know we all work together."
Beside Hallworth at the starting line for Team Beef will be the current president of the Florida Cattlewomen, Beth Hunt, who hopes to make Team Beef a staple at these types of races for years to come.
"We'd love to see the numbers of Team Beef members grow," Hunt said. "We're excited to participate and spread the word about the healthy improvements our team members have made in their lives. We're ready for this Savage Race. Go Team Beef."
Contact Scott Purks at firstname.lastname@example.org.