The half marathon in Elkmost, Ala., started off normally, but soon went to the dogs, or, in this case, the dog.
Ludivine, a two-year-old bloodhound, was outside for a quick bathroom break when she managed to join runners for the Elkmont Train Trek Half-Marathon. The dog joined the runners at the starting line and followed as the race began. An hour and a half later and Ludivine had finished the race, with a medal to prove it.
Although race organizers weren’t planning on four-legged participants, they recognized Ludivine’s unofficial finish. The racing newcomer finished seventh overall.
"I can't run a mile in that time," Ludivine's owner joked on Facebook after the event, "but Lu's exceptional debut into running has me inspired."
Ludivine’s official finish time was 1:32:56 – an impressive feat for a dog described as “actually really lazy,” by her owner in Runner’s World. The time officially accounts for a running distance of 13.1 miles, the normal distance of a half-marathon. Racers who ran alongside Ludivine say she ran even farther.
“One time she went over and met another dog next to the course,” Tim Horvath, a race participant who ran near Ludivine, told Runner's World. “Later on, she went into a field with some mules and cows. Then she’d come back and run around our legs. I wondered if she was going to get tired or go back to wherever her home was.”
April Hamlin, Ludivine’s owner, was unaware her dog was running a half-marathon. Ms. Hamlin had let Ludivine out for a bathroom break and learned about the half-marathon from friends who recognized the dog in the race.
Ms. Hamlin was “mortified” when she learned about her dog's marathon expedition, fearful that she had gotten in the way of runners who had trained for the event, she told the HuffPost. “I’m glad it ended the way it did.”
Ludivine’s unusual half-marathon attempt is not the first time a dog competed alongside humans to finish a race.
Dozer, a three-year-old golden-doodle, ran a half-marathon in Maryland after escaping from his invisible fence in 2011. The dog finished the race in 2:14:24, according to ESPN. After the strong finish, Maryland Half Marathon co-founder Jon Sevel promised ESPN the organizers would get the dog its own bib number “K9.”
In a more extreme case, a South American stray attracted headlines after it attached itself to a team during a 430-mile extreme race. A Swedish team in the final stages of the 430-mile Adventure Racing World Championship gained the mascot after their team captain, Mikael Lindnord, fed the stray a meatball.
The stray followed the team for six days and through extreme obstacles, including jumping in and paddling after the team as they departed on a 36-mile kayaking stretch. Mr. Lindnord adopted Arthur, the newly named stray, and flew him back to Sweden after the race, according to Independent.
After her 7th-place finish in the Alabama half-marathon, Ludivine was returned to her home and left the race organizers with some inspiration.
Race director Gretta Armstrong told HuffPost that the Elkmont Train Trek Half-Marathon would be renamed the “Hound Dog Half.”