People will pay good money to get really dirty. That's the discovery made by Millville's Barbara Cook Cancer Foundation three years ago, when it added a mud run to its traditional bike and run fundraiser at the New Jersey Motorsports Park in Millville and raised $56,000 from all events.
The mud brought an incredible burst of enthusiasm, said foundation treasurer Chuck Wyble, 56, of Millville.
Last year the foundation dropped the traditional bike races and runs, concentrating only on the mud run. And 1,000 people showed up to attack a 3.5-mile course, its obstacles and 50-yard stretches of deep muck, raising $100,000 for cancer programs at both the South Jersey Healthcare Foundation and LIVESTRONG, the Lance Armstrong Foundation, said Wyble, of Wyble Advertising in Millville.
This year's event will be Sept. 15 from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the motorsports park. There will also be a barbecue, an under-one-mile kids' mud run for ages 5-10, and a candlelight walk.
The foundation expects to raise much more this year, Wyble said.
The vast majority of people who attend do so just for fun, Wyble said.
"(Other events) are really intense, militaristic type of mud runs. Ours is not like that at all," Wyble said. There are shortcuts for people who don't want to do a full four miles, and it's okay to simply go around an obstacle, he said.
Wyble said he's seen hundreds of photos of the event, and in every picture, every participant is smiling broadly.
"And we don't have to worry about the weather. When it's raining, it's perfect mud weather," he said.
The run is named for Bill Bottino, the president and CEO of Bottino's ShopRite Supermarkets in Cumberland County. Bottino was diagnosed with lung cancer in June 2005 and died in March 2006.
Joe Profetto, the coordinator for men's cancer at South Jersey Healthcare in Vineland, is a trustee of the Barbara Cook Cancer Foundation.
The nonprofit is named for Barbara Cook, of Millville, the co-owner of Quality Lincoln-Mercury-Hyundai, who died from pancreatic cancer in 2008.
Profetto is the group's "mud expert," Wyble said.
There's no secret recipe to making good running mud, Profetto said. He just asked people that organized other mud runs how to go about it.
With the help of local supplies and welders, Profetto also created two huge contraptions that allow 120 people to shower at the same time, for the after-run cleanup.
He calls them "Aqua Puss" units, and each contains 60 hoses of shower power.
Neither Wyble nor Profetto have yet participated, since they are so busy with organizing.
"I'm built for comfort, not for running," Wyble joked.
But Profetto said he might jump in the mud pit this year, if the group decides to allow spectators and others to donate a small fee for a quick dip.
"If that would be the case, I'd do it then," Profetto said.
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If You Go
The Bill Bottino Mud Run Against Cancer, 2 to 9 p.m. Sept. 15 at the New Jersey Motorsports Park, 8000 Dividing Creek Road, Millville. Barbecue and candlelight walk $35. Online registration closes after today. Visit njmudrun.com/.