Running with a Purpose

WILMA Dash gives women a sense of community


This year’s WILMA Dash aims to bring women together once again for activity, community, and health. The Dash is an all-women 5K run and walk starting at the Wilmington Convention Center on Sept. 21 that is followed by a Health Fest featuring food, drinks, and health resources.

Many women participate to test themselves as first-time runners, prepare for longer runs in the future, or to join their peers and walk the downtown course. The race is also available virtually.

For experienced runner BRENDA ESTLACK, participating in the Dash is a way to support the local community.

“I like them to run with my friends and I usually know the course, though it can change slightly,” Estlack says. “It’s good for not having to travel too far, especially if I am working the next day. I love the Wilma Dash because it’s just us ladies.”

Estlack has been running since high school, has qualified for the Boston Marathon several times, and is the club president of the Wilmington Road Runners Club. At last year’s WILMA Dash, she finished in the top four. She provides some tips for those running this year or thinking about joining.

WILMA: What advice do you have for people running a 5K as opposed to longer races?
Estlack: “Pace yourself, but be prepared to run a lot faster than a longer run. Don’t let your first mile be too fast. Know that it won’t be easy, but also know that it won’t last too long.”

WILMA: For a run like a 5K, what should people eat before and after?
Estlack: “I would not eat too heavy before a 5K. Maybe half a bagel or slice of toast with a little peanut butter and half a banana about two hours before if the race is in the morning. If the race is in the evening, then I would have a breakfast, maybe oatmeal or toast with peanut butter and banana, lunch with some protein and a little carb about five hours before race, and then maybe another half banana about an hour and a half before. For any race, always go into it hydrated, whether is hot or cold. Really important in hot weather to hydrate and start a few days before, even a 5K. You don’t want to drink so much on race day that you feel bloated, so that is why to start before race day.”

Last year’s race also saw BETH ANN SOPOROWSKI finishing in the first place. Soporowski is a Without Limits account manager and co-owner of Run With Us.

She says she likes to participate in community runs like the WILMA Dash because of the support they provide to nonprofits. The Dash benefits Going Beyond the Pink, a nonprofit providing resources such as health and wellness education, individual and family support, and financial assistance to the breast cancer community.


“I feel we are very fortunate to live in a city that is able to provide so many great events that support local charities/nonprofit organizations. WILMA Dash is special to me because of the cause, Going Beyond the Pink,” Soporowski says. “Every race I run I have a why. Last year, I lost my aunt to breast cancer/COVID.  She was a P.E. teacher and had a passion for fitness. The day of the race was a very hot day. It was tough. She helped me get through the race. I felt her with me every step of the way.”

She says shorter runs like the 5K are great for all levels and experiences.

“I have enjoyed running this distance competitively and also in a group,” she says. “You do not have to plan nutrition, you can walk/run 3.1 miles, and be a part of a great after-party.”

Soporowski also has some tips for runners.

WILMA: How impactful is a race’s course? What do you look at in a race course before running?
Soporowski: “As a competitive runner I look at elevation, turns, weather, and terrain. I enjoy races downtown with the views of the water, buildings, and the energy.”

WILMA: With experience as an apparel manager at Without Limits, what should people consider about their clothing before a run?
Soporowski: “COMFORT, quality, and design. The weather always determines what I wear. I wear layers. You can always shed a layer if you have it but can’t add a layer if you don’t. I usually have clothes and flip-flops to change into after the race.”

What makes the WILMA Dash stand out to Soporowski is that it’s Wilmington’s only all-female race.

“I love how women of all ages come together to achieve a common goal to complete a 5K. It doesn’t matter the time, the pace, etc. It is about moving and being healthy. We know now more than ever, how important it is to stay healthy, keep moving and running/walking is one way to do this. I love to see the smiles, hear the laughs, and to see the cheers as they cross the finish line. I am not racing at this year’s event, but I will be there working and cheering everyone on.”

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Categories: Health