Dirty Dash 

Mud run gets muddier

Participants at last year's Mad Mudder fun run had one primary request for Court-Appointed Special Advocates of Missoula, the event's nonprofit sponsor: They wanted more mud.

CASA drew 600 people to the 2011 fundraiser, and netted $13,000 in beer sales and registration fees. But the group hit the maximum capacity for the Marshall Mountain course. According to CASA Executive Director Tara Jensen, forging ahead alone would have hit CASA with considerable overhead, including a full-time position to manage the event.

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"It was a significant time commitment and a big lift for a small organization," Jensen says. "The Dirty Dash had been in Billings and was looking to expand, so they called us up."

The Dirty Dash, a for-profit group that hosts mud runs throughout the West benefitting local nonprofits, approached CASA with a proposal. The group offered to shoulder event management in exchange for a cut of the proceeds. The obstacles would be bigger, the mud pits muddier, and CASA staff and volunteers would be free to focus on their work representing neglected children in Missoula courts. The transition also paved the way for a venue change to the Missoula Equestrian Park.

"CASA's goal in partnering with the Dirty Dash is to do better than CASA could do on their own," says former Mad Mudder marketing director Amy Coseo, now marketing director for the Missoula Dirty Dash.

The re-dubbed Dirty Dash drew 3,500 participants. CASA originally reported proceeds around $15,000, but Jensen now says the number is closer to $17,000—roughly 10 percent of the nonprofit's annual operating budget.

Now CASA and the Dirty Dash are looking ahead to 2013. Jensen says there are a number of tweaks and changes to be made, scheduling conflicts chief among them. The Dirty Dash, held Sept. 15, coincided with a University of Montana football game. But the one change CASA likely won't need is more mud. The Dirty Dash partnership took care of that.

"I knew the mud pits were going to be big, but I didn't realize," Coseo says. "It was way bigger than I even imagined."

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