Don “Red Dog” Gardner has become a legend in Lawrence. Gardner’s Dog Days workouts have grown in popularity every season, but the event reached epic proportions Wednesday evening at Kansas University’s Shenk Recreational Sports Complex in Lawrence.
“This morning I guessed that we would have 1,500 show up. My wife, Bev, guessed 2,000. I guess she was more right,” said Gardner, who has been conducting his free community workouts for 26 years.
Sign-up sheets indicated 2,766 supporters showed up Wednesday evening, thanks in part to a new initiative called LiveWell Lawrence, representing communities from across the region.
The Dog Days workout became what leaders called the “world’s largest community workout” Wednesday, and although it will not be officially certified by the “Guinness Book of World Records,” the bar is certainly set high for any other challenging communities.
No current record exists in the category.
“I wanted to be a part of this. I think it’s so exciting, my kids are here, my grandkids and I just think it’s really a neat thing,” said Corky Caillouet, a 69-year-old Lawrence resident. “It’s wonderful just to do it, and it’s so Lawrence.”
Enthusiasts participated in workouts such as sit-ups, push-ups, jumping jacks and a half-mile run. The age of participants ranged from a couple of months to 100 years.
“I am very much in favor of what they are doing,” said Dr. Henry Remple, who is 100. “I think it’s a wonderful thing to do this to get the younger people involved.”
Many Dog Days regulars said an event of this magnitude will bring more popularity to the daily workouts this summer, which are in a field near Kansas University’s Robinson Gym.
They would like to have the workout certified in the “Guinness Book of World Records” next year.
With one glance at the crowd on hand Wednesday evening, it doesn’t look like that will be a problem.