Friday, February 1, 2013

Mission Impossible: Finishing a 5k Race With My Dog

As some of you may know, my dog Pepper is my favorite running buddy.

We love to run together as often as we can. She also absolutely loves all types of people (adults and children) and would never hurt a fly. (Well, maybe a fly. I've seen her try.) She is really great when she comes to our group runs, behaving well within the group (even if people are running ahead). She is also really great with other dogs and is non-confrontational while we're running. She is so focused on going forward, she doesn't stray (unless there is a rabbit or squirrel, taunting her)
Can you spot the happiest dog in the world? The center of attention?





















Because I think she is such a great dog (although, my opinion may be biased) and she has so much fun when we're out there running together, I've been dying to sign us up for a 5k. I've seen dogs at races before, and I just know it is something that Pepper would absolutely love. She would love the excitement on race day, the attention from other runners, and the running too (duh).

However, time and time again, I keep coming up to road blocks when finding a 5k for us to participate in. Looking at different websites for small, local 5ks, there isn't usually a policy on dogs. I've emailed 4 different (small, local) races to find out about their policy on dogs. Some have said "We'd rather not" or "No"... While others never responded. If there is going to be a policy, I wish that more races would publish this policy on their website so it becomes common knowledge.  I understand not all people are dog people and there are certain liabilities with having dogs at races.

I've even emailed race directors, received a "no" response, and then shown up on race day only to see dogs (plural, more than 1) participating in the event. Being a strict "rule follower" by nature, I was upset by these "rule breakers." The defensive part of me thinks... Why have a rule if it is not going to be enforced? Another part of me thinks... Should I be a rule breaker like these other folks? Quit asking questions and just start showing up to races with my dog? Have you ever seen dogs when running races? Did it make you think one way or another about the race, or dogs in general?

Maybe this is an untapped market for a new type of race? A dog-friendly 5k! I've seen it done in other states (California mostly) but I haven't heard of anything around here. Would you participate in a dog friendly race? Perhaps the FNRC needs to put together a "grass roots" kind of thing where all dogs are welcome. Have you ever participated in a race with your dog? What race was it? Did people treat you differently, during or after the race?

37 comments:

  1. I've seen people run the PAWS 8K with dogs even though they say you can only do the walk, not the run, with your pet. And I agree with you that it's rude to break the rules!

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  2. Aw, I would love to run a race with my dog. She does all of my outside runs with me, even long runs. I saw a flyer around my neighborhood last fall for a dog 8k. I didn't do it but I definitely want to run in with her this year -- http://www.kintera.org/faf/home/default.asp?ievent=1024248

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  3. http://zbrun.org/ I've done this whole series, small, local race. There are always dogs on the course & no one even questions it.

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  4. I'd definitely participate in a dog-friendly 5k! It's so weird that there aren't any around here because I think Chicago is otherwise fairly dog-friendly. Maybe you should start your own? :) I've heard of other races starting as just a few friends/small running club, so it could definitely turn into an official race someday...

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  5. I never mind seeing dogs at 5k's! I would just say start near the back so as not to inconvenience the "racers" ... but I wouldn't see a problem! Break the rules Kelly! Life is short! :)

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  6. I live outside Milwaukee. Dogtoberfest in Middleton (near Madison) has a 6-legged 5K in October. Last year there was a 6-legged 5K during the Great Lakes Pet Expo (which is this weekend) but I didn't see anything about the 5K this year. Are you up to traveling to Wisconsin to run with Pepper? :-)

    I have never seen dogs in any races. I don't have a dog, so I guess I wouldn't run in a race where dogs are allowed, unless it was a fun run. I have a hard enough time getting around people. :-) But there are plenty of races I can run, so it would not bother me if there were more races where dogs are allowed.

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  7. I've definitely seen dogs in 5K's here in Chicago. Granted, I don't think they were technically allowed, but I've seen them and don't mind. If my memory serves, they were at a few smaller Fleet Feet races...

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  8. Lindsey McCallister ByarsFebruary 1, 2013 at 11:34 AM

    At my 10k last weekend, a guy showed up with a dog and no one thought twice about it as far I could tell. He just started at the back and didn't appear to be "race racing" it, if that makes sense. My two pups love to go on trail runs with me, and even when they're off leash, they stay close. Of course as soon as I put them on the leash and try to take them on road runs, they turn into total idiots, so I don't see any races with them in my future, even though I would love it!

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  9. If the rules were clear and enforced, I wouldn't have a problem with it. It's that they are kind of wishy-washy that bothers me.

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  10. Good to know about the PAWS 8k. Thanks for sending!

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  11. That race series sounds like fun. I only wish Zion, IL wasn't so far away from me! (1.5 hours)

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  12. That's just what we're thinking about, Anne! Meeting on the trail at a given time and making it a "3 mile doggy fun run"... :)

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  13. Haha, I love this mentality Amanda! Life IS too short!

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  14. Those festivals sound like so much fun! Are there dog-friendly hotels in the area? It would be nice to make a weekend out if it if I'm going all the way to Wisconsin... :)

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  15. Yes, I wouldn't be "race racing" it or trying to get a PR. I would be going at "Pepper" pace, just looking to finish smiling. My dog only runs on the leash with me (she can't be trusted off the leash) and she always stays right by me on the trail.

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  16. I would LOVE to attend a dog-friendly race, but my little guy isn't really built for running. He's tiny with long legs. When we go to the dog park, he eventually pretends he has to pee so he can take rest breaks.

    I did to a breast cancer walk with him once, but I brought a tote bag and stuck him in there after a while because he was so excited that he didn't realize he was exhausted. He slept most of the rest of the day.

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  17. Awww, how cute. My friend has a pug and they have finished a 5k together once with the run, walk, carry method. The dog ran about 1 mile total, maybe walked a mile, and was carried for the rest. Pugs are also not meant to run distance. Lol!

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  18. Ahhh, I just realized what FNRC stands for! Keep me posted if you do one - I bet my dog Jude would just love that! And he'd be so distracted by all the new people/dogs that I might even be able to keep up with him :)

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  19. If this ends up going down, it will probably be in the spring, before it gets to be too hot. I'll let you know!

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  20. When I did the Phoenix Phun Run 5K at LWN, there was a woman who finished with her dog. Actually, she was pushing a small cart for the dog, but finished with the dog running next to her on a leash. It was a pretty small race.

    Also, when I did the Downers Grove Turkey Trot (Bonfield Express), there were people with dogs. That race was really unsafe as it was (so oversold - imagine 4,000 people running the RFK Turkey Trot). So OF COURSE there were dogs on the (very crowded) course. I saw a woman almost clothesline a kid with her dog's leash. I know you are only seeking out smaller races that don't have crowded courses.

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  21. We have a local dog friendly race that benefits the Animal Rescue League. I have run it with my dog twice and if he were younger, we would continue every year. Here's a recap: http://runningescapades.blogspot.com/2012/10/my-dogs-are-barking-2012.html

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  22. I'd do a dog-friendly 5K -- especially if I had a dog! :) I think it would be great.

    Now we just have to get a cat 5K together... we have enough crazy cat ladies around!

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  23. Honestly, I wouldn't want to run in a race with dogs, just because they can be unpredicatable. I wouldn't want to trip over one or run into someone trying to get around a dog. That said, if the race was specifically marketed as a dog and owner race, I think there would be a huge turnout! A lot of people would love to take their dogs to an event.

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  24. I've done three 5Ks with one of my dogs. I absolutely love the pet-friendly 5Ks. I also coordinate the Miles and Mutts to run with shelter dogs and have reached out to several races as well trying to get more exposure. I respect a no dog policy but agree with you, there is nothing more frustrating than showing up and someone having a dog after I've actually taken the time to ask. A lot of small races will allow it or look for races to support local animal charities. They are out there, but definitely not as many as other races.

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  25. If you do start a grass roots race, i will come! In my experience, if they will allow walkers and strollers, they will generally allow dogs...have you tried asking at a pet store? The checkout girl at krisers said something about a north suburban one in the summer....

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  26. I am sure there are dog friendly hotels in the area. My co-worker has a daughter that attends UW Madison and I know they have stayed there with a dog. If you have any problems, just post and I can get the info from him. :-) Otherwise, I know you can search for pet friendly hotels on websites like Travelocity.

    The run is sponsored by a local brewery, Capital Brewery. It does sound like a lot of fun!

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  27. Ooo! Those darn rule breakers!

    I would not go out of my way to do a race with dogs, but I don't have one! LOL! I wouldn't care if I did a race and there were dogs. There is a race up here in Sept that encourages people to bring their dogs :)

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  28. Haha, very true. The kitty 5k? Cats are carried in carriers.

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  29. Thanks for your perspective! I think a dog in the front of the race can definitely be dangerous, especially if the course is crowded!

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  30. Thanks for this tip! I'll have to be on the lookout for races that support local animal charities.

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  31. I didn't think to ask at a pet store... what a great idea! I will let you know if we plan something here in the spring! :)

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  32. Of course, now that you mentioned how hard it is to find 5K runs that allow dogs, I saw another one in the Milwaukee area. It is a 5K fun run on April 13th. http://doorcountysleddogsdoggone5k.weebly.com/

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  33. I totally dig Cape Cods 4th Annual K-9 5K Trail Run run by CapeK9Cardio if you can travel with your dog to go to it June 30th!!!! I also consider this race the very best 5K Trail Run with my pup, Beta, in MA and the most adventurous and fun 5K trail run in New England!!!! Running around BeeBe Woods in Falmouth, MA, the scenery is absolutely breathtaking. Picture hundreds of runners looping through beautiful pines & trees on quintessential Cape Cod, flowers are blooming everywhere, winding through gorgeous wooded trails then surging past serene lakes and ponds. The race begins at the Falmouth Academy then leads onto wide dirt packed trails in the woods, past beautiful botanical gardens and then loops past a picture perfect lake that has a perfect walk-in point for my dog. The pine smell of the woods refreshes every fiber of my muscles as I breath in deeply enjoying the cool water stop with my pup. Next, the trail winds us back and forth up through the woods and narrows as we go uphill, jumping over roots and dodging boulders. Now I hear the panting of each canine hitting its stride as we all try to outrun each other to win, yet relishing each moment out on the trail. Ending the run with a terrific finish at the Falmouth Academy fields, spectators cheer, live music fills the air, dogs pant happily, and smiles mark the faces of all those who have taken on the challenge while supporting a fantastic cause. This race is meaningful to me because its a fantastic way to connect with nature and my pup, have fun with other like-minded runners, and absorb the picture perfect nature trails of Cape Cod. I also love it because I support a great cause and it's so much fun getting ready to run the race. Proceeds from this year's race on June 30th will go to "The Friends of Falmouth Dog Rescue Shelter". Please see www.k95k.com for race details.

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  34. I found this site is helpful! http://www.cararuns.org/Racing/Find%20a%20Race.aspx



    I live in Chicago and I was able to filter by Chicago. It shows you each race and if they're Pet friendly of not (they will have a "P" next to it).

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