Lorene Davidson and Mona Tagliaferro just wrapped up a morning training session in preparation for their next adventure race. Davidson wants to crank it on the mountain biking terrain and roll around in the mud, while Tagliaferro is ready to jump in for some paddling and lead the navigational strategy. Good thing they are on the same team, because they might be duking it out (or laughing really hard) in the last few meters if they weren’t.
The two women are leading a new group, Women’s Multisports of Richmond, which proposes an entirely different approach to team competition. Team members are expert competitors in a range of offbeat and interesting sports – one woman cruises the river in a standup paddle board, another is fond of tower racing, while several other members are regional standouts in mountain bike racing. Tagliaferro spends her weekends wave surfing on Lake Anna. The women enter team adventure or obstacle races that mesh their niche athletic skills and satisfy their competitive passions by working together. Despite how fun this sounds, the team’s mission is not all about sport.
“Our mission is really equally divided to create a team for women to be supportive of each other, to encourage others to try our sports, and also to help the community,” says Davidson, team president.
The team has partnered with other local and national athletically-minded service groups, such as the Richmond Cycling Corps and The Athena Project, to raise funding for people in need. While the team considers contributing to many worthy causes, the group’s current focus is to boost support to the Virginia Cancer Patient Fund.
“The neat thing about our team is that we value time and money equally – we are not just looking for financial contributions. We are all out there competing in these awesome sports, and then we come together to give our time to events that benefit underprivileged kids or cancer patients,” says Tagliaferro. “We just took turns pushing a man in a wheelchair as part of ‘Team Keith’ for the Monument Avenue 10k. I have never enjoyed that race so much before this year.”
Team members exercise the mental and physical fortitude required of the individuals they help each time they compete in a team adventure event. These women are competing with other skilled, often all-male teams, enduring Spartan-like conditions for hours or days on end.
Says Tagliaferro, “We know each other’s strengths and weaknesses and use it to our advantage to try to win.”
Adds Davidson, “We don’t wallow in our weak points and we don’t have as much muscle (as all-male teams), so we win because we problem-solve. We are each very competitive, but each woman has a breaking point. It happens and we get over it and move on.”
The team continues to grow in size, range of sports, and philanthropic scope. Several local businesses currently provide funding to help the members compete in races and conduct mountain bike clinics for beginners. The group’s main playground are the trails of downtown Richmond — places like the Buttermilk Trail in the James River Park System or Forest Hill Park.
“Our members live all over the place, so we can be spotted at Pocahontas, at Seal Team (Physical Training), in the river, or on the road,” says Davidson.
There is no doubt the members of Women’s Multisports of Richmond will continue to be a force to be reckoned with, whether the goal is to win the race or help those in need.
Just look for them with their snazzy rub-on tattoos or check out their website for more information: www.womensmultisportsofrichmond.com/index.html