1 of 2
2 of 2
After years of local complaints that Richmond isn't a real sports town, the city's successful pitch to be the site of the Washington Redskins' training camp and the rise of VCU and UR basketball in recent years have quieted the buzz somewhat. But if the doubters had been paying attention, they would've known that the Richmond region has long been a great sports town, if you're willing to look beyond the standard fare.
The three-day Dominion Riverrock festival (285-9495 or dominionriverrock.com ) takes place on Brown's Island on the James River, providing a series of outdoor events for participants and spectators alike. Among the annual festival's menu of events, including kayaking, climbing, running and biking, two stand out above all others — Subaru Ultimate Air Dogs and the Miller Lite Filthy 5K Mud Run.
Ultimate Air Dogs pits Fido against Rover in a competition to see which dog can jump the farthest. Divided into categories by breed, dozens of dogs jump from a dock into a pool, with owners usually tossing a ball or a fake bone as an incentive to get the dogs airborne and covering some distance.
The Mud Run, which takes place on Belle Isle, finishes with a pit of mud more than a foot deep. To ensure that no runner completes the 5K with a clean jersey, the pit has cargo netting over the top, forcing participants to crawl through. And just because the crowd is on the sidelines doesn't mean they're clear of the splash zone.
"Spectators are definitely in the line of fire," says Scott Schricker, marketing director for Sports Backers, which organizes the event along with Venture Richmond. He says that Mud Run participants, who often dress up in costumes, relish swimming in the muck. "They really enjoy it."
If you're feeling the post-Super Bowl slump and miss the gridiron action, check out the Richmond Raiders (780-4970, ext. 145, or richmondraidersprofootball.com ). The indoor-football team plays six home games at the Richmond Coliseum from March through June, with the possibility of more they're in the playoffs. (Last season, the Raiders made it to their league's championship game before losing.) With a field of only 50 yards and rules that restrain the defense, teams normally rack up points at a faster clip than in standard football games.
"It's geared towards the offense and high scoring," says Tim Hurley, business general manager for the Richmond Raiders. He says teams average from 55 to 65 points a game. "It's touchdowns, back and forth."
For those who prefer their action on skates, the River City Rollergirls roller derby team ( rivercityrollergirls.org ) will have at least six home bouts at the Greater Richmond Convention Center in 2013, with the first one scheduled for March 16. The full-contact sport features teams trying to score points by lapping each other around a track.
"One of the biggest misconceptions is that it's just women fighting on the track," says Rollergirl Allison "Munkey" Drezek. "It's really not that way. … It's a sport, and it deserves the respect that a lot of other sports get."
In September, the Rollergirls will host their league's division playoffs at the Greater Richmond Convention Center. The team also holds three or four practice bouts at the Roller Dome on Williamsburg Road every year, with the first currently scheduled for June 23. Drezek says they encourage fans of all ages to come to their matches.
For those with a taste for something a bit more international, the North American Open squash tournament ( naosquash.com ) runs from Feb. 23 to March 2 at the Westwood Club and ACAC Fitness and Wellness Center in Short Pump. Fifty-six players from across the globe will descend on Richmond for the multiday event. This year's tournament will include at least 10 of the racket sport's top-ranked players in the world.
"People just say they're blown away by how strong these athletes are," says Gus Cook, tournament director. "There really aren't many opportunities to see a world-class event of this caliber in Richmond.