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High heels in motion


Oh, high heels. We obviously love them because they turn beauties into Amazons and give a pronounced effect to the body (read: booty). And for those prone to slapstick, they occasionally break. It’s like watching the shortest fall off a tightrope.

“We brainstormed different ideas of ways to help at PrideFest and do something sports-related and fun,” said Jonathan Garton of the Pride Sports League Board. “Some on our board have seen these high heel races in other cities and thought it could be fun to try in Des Moines.”

The High Heel Drag Race will take place on the Grand Avenue Bridge, though the exact distance is still to be decided. While everyone must wear heels to participate, there is no limit as to the type of heel one chooses.

The High Heel Drag Race will take place on the Grand Avenue Bridge at 3 p.m. on June 7 as part of PrideFest.

The High Heel Drag Race will take place on the Grand Avenue Bridge at 3 p.m. on June 7 as part of PrideFest.

In researching this type of event, Garton said they came to the realization that women may have a natural upper hand racing in heels.

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“We wanted to include everyone, yet keep things a little fair, so we decided to do two races,” Garton said. “You see women in heels all the time, but you usually don’t see them dashing to the finish line, so it should make it very interesting.”

When getting right down to the sport of the event, there’s really one thing that needs attention: your feet. No matter how adept one is in high heels, there is a point in the night where sacrificing comfort for style is no longer favorable. This moment will happen earlier when you factor in sprinting in Prada.

It may be wise for participants to have a copy of their health insurance cards with you. That way, when the combination of booze and dashing in eveningwear inevitably brings a few people down, they’ll be able to be carted off by some of Des Moines’ finest emergency services.

While the actual race only takes a few minutes, be sure to get downtown early to see these drag kings and queens strut their stuff. They do race, but mostly they parade, swirl and preen. Like rare butterflies or birds of paradise, the crowds throng and swarm around, chasing with digital cameras, long before and after the race.

So what’s better, seeing a bunch of beautiful people stumble, strut and stagger along as they (attempt to)hurry in high heels? Or crunching up your own toes and getting in on the action?

“I think it would be a tie on that question,” said Garton. “To be able to let it all go and dress in a wig and put on some heels sounds really fun to me. But to watch everyone race and be in the crowd enjoying what costumes or looks everyone brings would be really fun, too. So I say tie!”

With that said, take a look at these five tips to keep you on your feet and ahead of the pack:

1. Try to get a little exercise and stretch your feet and ankles before trying to walk in, much less run in, high heels.

2. Remember the old saying, walk before you run? Learn how to walk perfectly in your heels before stepping into the race. This will help ensure balance when you attempt to pick up the pace.

3. Be aware of your surface. Watch for holes and uneven ground. Grass is especially hard to walk or run in wearing high heels.

4. Like balancing an overfilled glass of booze, it’s better to keep your eyes up and looking ahead rather than at your feet. This keeps your posture — plus everyone gets to see your lovely face.

5. It’s good to imagine you’re wearing a heel that’s higher than the one you’re actually wearing. It gives one a little more control and keeps one lighter on his or her feet. Also go for a wider/thicker heel. Stilettos are dangerous!

Bonus tip: Grab some shoe inserts! CV  

David Rowley is an Iowa native with a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Iowa and a master’s in film journalism from the University of Glasgow in Scotland.

PrideFest 2014 June 6-8
The High Heel Drag Race June 7 at 3 p.m.
Cost: $6
Sign up early at or at the day of event by visiting the Pride Sports League Exhibit booth.

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