A 5K race through the Shepherd University campus will kick off the DogFest weekend. The race, sponsored by the Mud Dogs of Shepherdstown, will start at 10 a.m. Saturday at the corner of King and High streets. Runners may register there beginning at 8 a.m. The registration fee is $20.
The race, according to Mud Dog member and trainer Mike Chalmers, will be self-paced so anyone at any fitness level can participate. The course will wind through the university's east and west campuses and include seven exercise stops along the way.
The race, Chalmers said, incorporates the idea behind all of the Mud Dogs workouts in that the exercise is geared toward individual ability so that anyone of any fitness level, size, shape and ability can participate.
At the end of the race, participants will be able to utilize the Shepherd Wellness Center for showers.
"Shepherd has been a huge sponsor of the event," Chalmers said. He voiced excitement over the fact that participants will be able to see the campus, especially portions that are not seen in a quick drive through.
The Mud Dog group, which was organized in 2011 by six individuals who wanted to exercise and create a healthier lifestyle now sees more than 40 members come out to weekly workout sessions.
Chalmers explained that he met and joined early on and offered help in focusing on a fitness formula that is self-paced and self-modified so that anyone can do it. He explained that the group's efforts combine natural life fitness movements and body weight so that there is not need for additional equipment.
"The workout is based on time, not the number of repetitions," Chalmer said, which allows individuals to move at their own pace without feeling as if they cannot keep up with other members. '
"This focus eliminates a lack of accomplishment," Chalmers said, which encourages individuals to continue with their exercise program.
Chalmers said the group's members all know one another now and have fun.
"Everyone brings their kids," he said. "We have a group now called the 'Mud Pups' who work out, too." Chalmers said it is refreshing for kids to see their parents participating in such a program that encourages activity and fitness.
That is what participants in the Dog Fest 5K can do, as well. The race, which will run through Shepherd's campus, will offer seven stops for exercises along with the running. Chalmers said that the course can also be a walk for those who do not wish to run. Those under 18 are welcome but must be accompanied by an adult, he said.
"This is going to be super exciting," Chalmers said as the group hopes to draw several hundred participants to the event.
In addition to this initial 5K, the Mud Dogs hope to sponsor upcoming Community Fitness Days where Mud Dog members will train and help raise awareness of the importance of keeping fit.
"Why stop at fitness?" Chalmers asked. He said that the group will work with Sustainable Solutions to help clean up areas around Shepherdstown by picking up trash or clearing out invasive plants.
"This is a fun group," Chalmers said. "We plan to work together on other projects to help the community."
The proceeds raised from Saturday's 5K event will be donated to the Shepherd Foundation that provides athletic scholarships and to Shepherdstown's BEST (Better Experience for Shepherdstown Tourists).