Monday, August 6, 2012

Defend Your Friend 5K Recap

Photos by OHventures

If you have been following OHventures lately at all (or my personal Twitter feed), you will know that I have recently rescued a Chihuahua named Slider. It seems like much longer than the 2 months that it has been since I adopted him, as we have participated in a number of fun activities, including a couple of 5K races in which both dogs and their owners participate. The most recent of these 5K races was the Defend Your Friend 5K on Thursday, August 2 at the Scioto Audubon Metro Park in South Columbus.

The Defend Your Friend 5K was our second “doggy 5K” (the first being the Run With The Pack 5K in June) and it proved to be more difficult than the first. It was certainly a hot day, which did not help the situation. However, the main issue, I believe, is that the race began in the evening rather than in the morning. By the time 7PM rolled around and Slider and I were to start our race, he was already pretty pooped. Being a dog of his size (a whopping 9-ish pounds), Slider can run out of energy rather quickly!

The event was put on by the Capital Area Humane Society and was to benefit the organization’s cruelty investigation unit. I can not stomach the simple thought of someone intentionally harming an animal in any way, and having heard some of the stories from the investigators themselves, I certainly was happy to contribute in any way possible to help save animals and prevent them from being mistreated. Any race that has a noble cause such as this gets bonus points in my book!

Apparently this is the first year that the race took place at this location, which led to some confusion it seems, I learned from talking to some runners who have participated for multiple years. I will admit that I was rather disappointed in the number of booths and athletes that this race had in comparison to the Run With The Pack, but I believe there were a number of contributing factors involved and that didn’t make it any less fun.

After arriving with my friend Caitlyn (who became official bag carrier and photographer), we gathered some free goodies (dog treats, a t-shirt, a portable water bowl, and a doggy bandana to name a few) and I stretched out for the run! When the horn sounded, I came to find that my stretching was not as needed as I thought, since Slider was not performing as well as he did in his first 5K (which was 33 minutes). We had to take a number of breaks, and I even carried him and ran/walked a number of times. It is important when running a race with your dog to put your dog's needs and interests first, and to ensure that the dog is not being pushed too far.

The course for the Defend Your Friend 5K was the same exact course we had for the Run With The Pack 5K, which looped around the park and took place mainly on the Olentangy Greenway Trail.

Perusing the interwebs, I stumbled across a fellow blogger’s recap of the event, who coincidentally described her encounter with me and Slider on her post (Gym Class Dropout). It is hilarious that this stranger decided to include me in her blog, and I am still smiling about it! An excerpt from her post is below:

“The other best part was playing leap frog with a chihuahua.  I'm not kidding.  This dog must have been practicing the Galloway run/walk method.  His owner was smart enough to realize it was hot and that the little dog wasn't going to be running the entire 3.1 miles.  I mean his legs were 3 inches long!  So he'd run a little, pass me and then walk a little and I'd pass them.  Then then passed me again....except this time the owner was running but carrying the little dog.  It was pretty cute. I realize that a 41:42 5K isn't earth shattering.  It's still slow but it's still a PR for me.  I also realize that when you are a back of the packer, you have to have a sense of humor.  Getting passed by a chihuahua with 3 inch legs is one of those times when you have to have a sense of humor.”

It is evident by this blogger’s post that Slider and I drew a great deal of attention with our race! He is definitely a “sprinter” as he would walk for a while then speed up for a while, only to slow right back down to a walk. I am proud of the little guy, as I know that for him, this must have been more like a marathon than a 5K. I was not the only one whose dog needed a break, however. Some owners of smaller dogs carried their pups while some others had to take short rests in the grassy areas off to the side of the trail. It was exceptionally hot out, so much so that even the water stations wouldn’t do the trick completely!

Slider and I ran along with another couple and their two dogs at the very end of the race, and trotted across the finish line in approximately 45 minutes or so (I do not know the official time, but it was longer than our first 5K). We were given homemade doggy ice cream and water and relaxed with Caitlyn before heading home.

If you have a dog, and/or if you simply care about dogs, I highly encourage you to participate in the Defend Your Friend 5K in years to come! It is quite an experience!

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