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Runners dig deep for smelly fundraiser

May 7, 2007

From the Guelph Mercury.  May 7, 2007 

Runners dig deep for smelly fundraiser

A bit of weight training, lots of endurance running and a little manure shovelling, and Olympic-calibre middle-distance runner Reid Coolsaet, 27, should be ready to race.

Coolsaet and about 10 other local track and field athletes waded through a huge pile of fertile dung over the weekend — moistening it with a garden hose, turning it with shovels and bagging it for sale to gardeners. In the smelly process, they raised a few thousand dollars for the Speed River Track and Field Club, while exercising different muscle groups and awakening different sensory cells in their nasal passages.


Kyle Boorsma, 19, left, and Reid Coolsaet, 27,
both members of the Speed River Track and
Field Club shovel and bag manure at the U of G
Saturday to help raise money for their club.

“I usually lift weights twice a week, but this week I’m only doing it once because I’ve been shovelling a lot of manure,” Coolsaet said, the aroma of farm-fresh poo wafting in the air. The Guelph resident is one of the top middle-distance runners in the country, finishing first recently in the 5,000-metre event at the Tyson Invitational in the U.S., and winning the same event at last year’s Canadian Track and Field Championships.

The heap of fecal matter, which was dumped in a parking lot next to University of Guelph’s Gryphon Dome, was towering when the weekend began, said runner Laura Moulton. But sales were brisk and the pile dwindled. The scent was much less pungent for this year’s sale than previous ones, she said, because the cow pies were mixed with aromatic mushroom soils and plants.

“It usually just reeks, but not this year,” said Moulton, who had prepared herself for smelly weekend. She was pleasantly surprised. The natural fertilizer is donated to the University of Guelph-affiliated club by a local farm.

“I guess we could sell something like tulips, something that smells nice,” Moulton added. “Maybe next year we could sell people the manure and then the flowers to go in it.”

She added the unique fundraising product makes sense for an agricultural community like Guelph, and participants actually have shovel loads of fun doing it.

“The first weekend in May is our annual manure sale, which is a great fundraiser for our club,” said Kyle Boorsma, 19, a cross-country runner. “It’s not as bad as it sounds. Sure, it smells pretty bad, but because the weather is nice, everybody shows up, we shovel for awhile and have some laughs.”

Boorsma said the annual fundraiser puts between $5,000 and $7,000 into club coffers, and helps cover equipment costs and travel expenses to and from competitions across the country. The manure was sold in 40-pound bags for $5 each, and were pre-ordered by local residents. One buyer ordered 30 bags. Club members spent the weekend bagging and delivering the manure.

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