It's not hard to find a 5K run on any given weekend through the spring and fall.
The glut of races has prompted organizers to come up with ways to make their event an appealing option.
So, Paul Stofko thought, why not have Bigfoot trudge around the course.
"Northwest Indiana is super saturated with races. Everybody has road races," said Stofko, the founder of the Crazy Legs Race Series. "Most races have some kind of theme, to try to come up with something unique. We have the 'I Love Coffee' Run in January, the 'Stache Dash. It's just random things where you run a 5K and call it whatever you want."
The Bigfoot 5K started in 2011 at Bluhm County Park in Westville and will be held for the seventh time Sept. 22.
"There's probably other places around the country that do it, but there's not anything like it around here," said Stofko, a Lake Central graduate. "It would be a hard sell as a road race. It's a nice wooded area with trails that intertwine."
Back when Stofko hatched the premise, he convinced friend and fellow race organizer Tim Fealy to dress up in a Bigfoot costume and roam around the course. Runners who spot him (it?) and submit video/pictures from their cell phones are eligible for post-race raffles.
"He has 'feet' that are tied on to his shoes," Stofko said. "It's funny, the costume is made for a shorter person and he's like 6-1, so there's a gap at the end of it. He wears black socks."
Runners know from the start of the race that Bigfoot will be traversing about the course, so it's not a case of trying to scare people for laughs.
"It's nothing more than a BMX bike trail in a lot of places so it's pretty tight," Stofko said. "If there's been a lot of rain, it gets pretty dense. You might get some people who have their heads up and are listening to music, not paying attention, so sometimes he might catch people by surprise and scared them, but it's not done on purpose."
Bigfoot hangs toward the middle and back of the race pack in order to avoid the more die-hard runners at the front who are more concerned with a particular time or finish.
"They're going to do what they do and not slow down," Stofko said. "It's more for people who are just out to enjoy the experience of a trail run. There's one section where it's wide before it gets narrow where he'll pop out and won't stop people from progressing. He cuts across the course and they can stop and take pictures of him in different sections."
The race drew upwards of 70 when it debuted, but has leveled off to the 40, 50 range.
"It's hard if you're going up against races that are for a charity," Stofko said. "Races were shifted to Sunday. That was the new thing, then everybody started doing them on Sundays. You can't do them during the week. We're running out of ideas. We're just trying to make it as fun as possible."
For more information on the race, go to https://raceroster.com/events/2019/21394/bigfoot-5k-trail-run.