Have you shied away from benefit 5Ks and charity walks because they require such sensible shoes? Well ditch the excuses and break out your most fashion-forward pumps – your moment has finally arrived.

Tonight racers in the first annual Stiletto Challenge fundraiser compete to see who has the greatest athleticism while balancing atop pointy heels. “The only requirement is that the heel has to be at least two inches,” said organizer Scott Manthorne of Yarmouth. “And no wedges.”

Walk-on racers are welcome at this stylish event, which takes place at The Landing at Pine Point in Scarborough. Registration starts at 5:30 p.m. and the race goes off around 6 p.m. A cocktail party with a cash bar, light appetizers and live music from Adam and the Waxmen will follow.

Wearing their most fashionable footwear, gals (and possibly a few brave guys) will gun for the glory in a 100-yard dash.
“It’s a good cause, and it’s a little bit of glamour in Maine,” said Jolene Talty of South Portland, who will be among those at the starting line.

Talty hails from Florida, where she says heels are much more common than here in casual Maine. Although not a runner, she’s looking forward to the opportunity to slip on one of her favorite pairs of high heels and make a mad dash for charity.

“The ones I can dance in will be the ones I can run in,” Talty said.

The race, which has been promoted through Facebook and the PortSports Social Club, is expected to attract a big crowd of onlookers. As of Monday, 30 agile women had paid the $25 registration fee to race, but Manthorne anticipates more runners will sign-up just before the event.

All the money from the Stiletto Challenge entry fees and any additional donations from spectators will go to support the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation, which raises money for breast cancer research, and Lift Up Ellie, which raises money to support the medical bills of a little girl with a rare childhood cancer.

The chance to support these worthwhile charities is what convinced Keri Guay of Portland to throw her heels into the ring.

“Breast cancer runs in my family,” Guay said. “So it’s very close to home for me.”

As to what shoes she’ll wear to support the cause, she’s still trying to figure that out.

“I’m looking for the most comfortable and sturdy ones,” Guay said of her collection of high heels. “I’ll do a few loops around the block to test them out.”

Guay said she doesn’t think she’ll win. “I’ll probably be the last one at the finish line,” she joked.

She may have some competition in that department.

Teresa D’Andrea of South Portland plans to wear “a fabulous pair of red stilettos,” but she’s going for a slow and steady rather than a fast and tippy race day strategy.

“I asked Scott to make a prize for the last person to finish,” D’Andrea said with a laugh.

The race is open to both women and men, however not a single guy has signed up.

“I haven’t had any men who are proud enough or strong enough to pull it off,” Manthorne said.

You hear that guys? Sounds like a challenge.

But if the guys don’t step up this year, they can expect some added peer pressure from Manthorne ahead of the 2011 race.

“We’ll work on bragging rights on the guy’s side next year,” Manthorne said.

But the real question is will Manthorne be wearing stilettos at this event?

After dodging the question with claims of organizing duties, he finally said, “I’ll do whatever I need to do. If someone challenges me, I’ll have to throw a bet on it.”

With any spike-induced spoils going to charity, of course.

Staff Writer Avery Yale Kamila can be contacted at 791-6297 or at:
akamila@pressherald.com