They say that every dog has its day, and for the last eight years, that day has been in July for more than 4,000 intrepid “Big Dawgs” who have challenged themselves by running through the muck and mire at Wolff Farms near Litchfield for the annual Big Dawg Dare 5K mud run.
But with COVID-19 restrictions projected to last through the summer, if not longer, and other factors taken into account, the board of directors for the Big Dawg Dare has decided to cancel the race for 2020 and discontinue the event after eight years.
“After two years, things will be overgrown so we thought we would call it,” race founder Brian Hollo said. “We’ve had great community support and unbelievable volunteers. I get people all the time talking to me about it on the street. I think it was positively received after the first year, when everyone figured out what we were doing.”
What they were doing was building up one of the most unique events in the area, one that drew competitors from all over Illinois and the midwest.
The first event in 2012 drew 220 runners and the field grew slightly over the next two years, with 270 in 2013 and 290 in 2014. In 2015, the Big Dawg Dare added a 2K Puppy Dawg Dare and experienced its biggest jump, with 668 competitors crossing the finish line. Since then, the crowds have continued to be in the 600 to 700 range, with a record 752 competitors last year.
While the race itself challenged competitors’ will and physical limitations, the results of the race reached well beyond personal satisfaction. Proceeds from the Big Dawg Dare have been doled out in donations to charities and volunteer groups in Montgomery and Macoupin counties, including more than $1,300 to INAD research in honor of Grace Herschelman and more than $3,500 to the Montgomery County Cancer Association from last year’s race.
Hollo said that the group isn’t done giving yet either.
“We still have some money out there if there are some charities or volunteer groups in need,” said Hollo. For more information on donation requests, email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Whether it is judged by competitors or donations or just by memories made, the Big Dawg Dare was an unequivocal success, one that took an army of volunteers to put on.
“I want to thank the board and the volunteers,” Hollo said. “We had a lot of people who helped, some of them helped a couple of years, some of them helped from the start.”
Plans are in the works for one last hurrah for volunteers sometime this fall to celebrate the event that got so many people “off the porch.”
It’s a bittersweet end for Hollo, who started the race after taking his son and some friends to the Warrior Dash a decade ago.
“It seemed like it just kept getting better and better,” Hollo said of the race. “It was really enjoyable.”