Girls just want to have fun at Mud Girl

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The mud at Gopher Dunes Saturday was nearly perfect for the annual Mud Girl run.


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“This is our fourth year,” said Gary Pillu from Montreal, who founded the Mud Girl company with his brother Kevin. “It should have been our fourth but we did not have any last year because of COVID.”

This year they had six Mud Girl events in Canada, including next weekend’s season finale in Edmonton, and 27 runs in the United States.

“We have more in Ontario than Quebec,” said Gary.

Mud Girl first arrived at Gopher Dunes in 2019 with roughly 3,000 participants. This year 4,000 women and girls, from ages seven and older, registered for Saturday’s event.

“We came to them – normally we are always looking for motocross parks as our standard when looking for venues. It’s a place where you can have mud, water, and big parking spaces. Gopher Dunes was the perfect spot for that. It’s a really awesome venue and the people are really nice. We are really lucky to be here.”

The event is billed as a London event operating at Gopher Dunes, south of Courtland.

“With 4,000 people we are moving toward 5,000 people. We hope to get better and maybe open two days next year. In Edmonton we have had 10,000 runners, and we just came back from Montreal where we have 10,000 runners. To have 4,000 here is a really good number, we’re happy with that.”

Mud Girl raises money for the Breast Cancer Foundation based in Montreal (serving Ontario and Quebec).

“(In 2019) we raised around $100,000 for them, $80,000 from the events and an extra $20,000 from the company. So we were really happy with that. This year we hope to have the same amount and maybe more.”


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Saturday’s participants included some locals, but most from anywhere between London and Toronto.

“Even a couple from Edmonton,” Pillu noted.

The Pillus started with obstable races open to everyone, including winter races.

“We observed that we had so many women in the race (nearly half of their participants) and sometimes women don’t want to get involved in races because they don’t want that competition. We didn’t think it was good for women who just want to have fun and don’t want to be judged by anyone during the races.

“So we decided to do obstacle races just for women only – and it was a good success at the beginning, we had lots of people.

“We see the empowerment of women – you have beginners and you have people who never wanted to run in their life coming together. To see the bond that is created inside this event, that is something that motivates us a lot. We are so proud to see so many generations. We have some that are young, some that are grandmothers, some parents, and they are all running together sharing a moment and having fun.”

After completing Mud Girl, some may move on to other obstacle races and distance runs, said Pillu, and that would be ‘the best.’

“If they can continue the journey to sport and fitness, that would be awesome.”

Participants walked or ran 5km Saturday with staggered starts (15 minutes apart for each group).

“You can see people having fun and that’s what we want to see – people having a great experience, enjoying the moment with friends.”

Mud Girl will be back at Gopher Dunes in 2022, likely earlier in the summer season.

“Normally we don’t try to be at this time (September) but we didn’t have much choice because of COVID.”

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