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Muddy Duck Dash fundraider draws big crowd to UNG Gainesville campus
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Christy Vandervoet splashes as she makes her way down the slip ‘n’ slide Saturday at the Muddy Duck Dash at the University of North Georgia Gainesville campus. Proceeds from the dash benefit the Southeastern Brain Tumor Foundation and the UNG College of Education scholarship fund. - photo by Erin O. Smith

More than 1,000 people showed up to run through a muddy course carrying a rubber duck Saturday.

The fourth annual Muddy Duck Dash was put on by the University of North Georgia at its Gainesville campus.

Runners must keep the rubber duck with them at all times and get it across the finish line.

Erin Caudell, who joined the race with six others from the Habersham Medical Center, said she ran because it “was for a good cause and we’re crazy.”

With registration set at $50-$60, more than $50,000 was raised. Proceeds benefit the Southeastern Brain Tumor Foundation.

The obstacle course spanned just over 3.2 miles and featured ramps and wooden obstacles, hills, a ropes course, pond, mud pit and 125-foot water slide.

Jamie Vargo of Dacula started the rainy morning with a text to friends and co-workers joining her for the race: “Great day for a mud run.”

Her boys were having a hard time containing their excitement.

“They’ve been asking every day, ‘Is it time? Is it time?’ My little one was having a meltdown because we have to wait till the end to go,” she said. “So we’re excited.”

Two races were available for children, but Vargo’s group — between 6 and 10 years old — elected to run with the adults.

Vargo said she likes doing events like the dash because it’s a great experience for the family.

She said she hopes the event will “keep them active and make them laugh at us. They’ll remember this forever I’m sure.”

Michelle Mitchell of Hoschton was a little more hesitant of the rain but knew Vargo wouldn’t let her back out.

“Working out in a gym just doesn’t really do it for me so this is my way of doing it,” she said. “It keeps you moving, keeps you motivated.”