You’re never too far from a neighborhood mutt strut or 5k that you can run with your dog. It doesn’t take much training to make it to the finish line and it's a great way to have fun and exercise with your pooch. But if you’re looking for something a little more challenging or entertaining, check out these one-of-a-kind foot (and paw) races which will either leave you and Fido raring to go or glad you stayed at home.
Posted by Billy Francis
World Championship Dog Mile
One of the most famous canine races in America is the World Championship Dog Mile in Santa Barbara. For one day each year the popular run takes over State Street, one of the city's most iconic roads. In 2019, Dan Wehunt and his dog Odessa completed the mile in the world-record time of 4:07. Could Fido be on top of the podium next year?
The World Championship Dog Mile is part of the State Street Mile in Santa Barbara, CA. The race is usually held in early June with pre-registration available online for $30.
The Columbia Gorge Half Marathon Dog Leg
Enjoy gorgeous views of Mt. Hood, fruit orchards, mountain creeks and waterfalls on the Columbia Gorge Half Marathon Dog Leg. The race covers the same ground as the humans-only half marathon, with canine runners departing in the final wave. Dogs and their owners are each equipped with individually registered timing chips so you can see where you both rank. As an added bonus, the Dog Leg takes place in October when the fall foliage presents a rich tapestry of oranges and yellows. It won’t take you long to see why they call it the most scenic marathon in America.
The Columbia Gorge Half Marathon Dog Leg starts from Hood River Waterfront Park on Oct. 20, 2019. The entry fee is $80-110 depending on when you register.
Chariots of Fur Beach Run
This is one race that doesn't encourage running on the beach in slo-mo like Hasselhoff in Baywatch. In fact, the aim of many Chariots of Fur duos is the exact opposite: to finish the 5k beach course as fast as they can. This out-and-back race takes place on the sands of Jacksonville Beach, which lets you enjoy sweeping views of the Atlantic Ocean while your pooch stomps over sandcastles. If Fido’s the first through the tape, he’ll be presented with the coveted prize of the Chariots of Fur Dog Bowl. Wherever you end up finishing, you can enjoy the festival of dog-centric booths and demos afterwards.
Chariots of Fur Beach Run is held in February on Jacksonville Beach in Jacksonville, FL. The entry fee is $30-45.
Color Me Mutt 5K & 1 Mile Color Walk/Run
As the name implies, the Color Me Mutt 5K & 1 Mile Color Walk/Run invites dogs and their owners to run a flat course in the Smoky Mountains while being showered with vibrant colors. The day’s events are split into three: a 5k Timed Race, One-Mile Color Fun Run and a Pet Parade. Race volunteers use a non-toxic paint powder and are quite enthusiastic about introducing it to passing runners. There are wash stations for dogs and humans along the way. At the Pet Parade, your pup can strut her stuff and win prestigious awards like Twinzies (the best dog and owner look alike), Most Original, Best Fictional Character and Homespun Magic (best homemade costume).
Color Me Mutt 5K & 1 Mile Color Walk/Run is located at NASCAR SpeedPark Smoky Mountains in Sevierville, TN. The next race is set to take place on April 25, 2020. The fee is $35 for each human racer, and dogs run for free. The fee for the Pet Parade only is $10.
Siberian Husky 5K & 1 Mile “Idid-A-Run”
Equipped with thick double coats, almond-shaped eyes to avoid the snow and, most importantly, an insatiable hunger for running, Huskies are the ideal cold-weather race companions. The Siberian Husky 5K & 1 Mile "Idid-a-Run" was started to honor these furriest of friends. Although the racing pack is full of Huskies, other dogs are welcome to join in. The race is divided into a 5k course and a one-mile walk/run.
The Siberian Husky Idid-a-Run is held in April at Edgewater Park in Cleveland, OH. Pre-registration is $25.
Salt Flats Endurance Runs
There are three categories in the Salt Flats Endurance Runs series: the 50k, 50 mile and 100 mile. Together they represent some of the only ultra races (exceeding 26 miles) on the planet that are also pet friendly. This ultimate test of strength and stamina has its rewards; runners will witness some of the most breathtaking scenery on the planet, including stretches of land so flat you can see the curvature of the Earth on the horizon.
Note that your furry running mate can only join if you have a crew with you to take responsibility of the dog if needed. Four-legged runners don’t have to be registered if they are only participating in certain sections of the race. However, hardy pups who do register receive a race shirt, bandana, race bib (which tracks their time), treatment at the aid stations if needed, and access to human food and water. Dog booties for crossing the salt are also recommended. Fido can run off leash between aid stations as long as he's leashed again around 100 yards before the next one. All athletes who complete the race in under 36 hours receive a commemorative belt buckle.
The Salt Flats Endurance Runs start at the Bonneville Speedway in Wendover, UT. The next race is due to take place on May 1, 2020. Entrance fees are $80-120 for the 50k, $120-160 for the 50-mile run, and $120-200 for the 100-mile run. Dogs will be charged the same registration fees as their humans.
Chasing Tail Run
Despite being in the same state, this race couldn’t be further away from our other Utah offering. The only endurance you need for this one is the ability to sink a few pints. The Chasing Tail Run in Salt Lake City is described by the organizers as “a one-of-a-kind excuse to drink delicious craft beer cunningly disguised as a road race that you can run with your dog.” It’s a little shorter than the Salt Flats Endurance Runs (by about 96 miles), and you certainly won’t need as much training to complete either the four-mile run through downtown or the 1.5-mile Doggy Dash. Participants get to run in the urban sprawl of the city with a backdrop of the stunning Wasatch Mountains in the distance.
Chasing Tail Run starts and ends at the pet-friendly Squatters Brew Pub in downtown Salt Lake City, UT. This year’s race will take place on September 21. Runners receive a personalized bib, chip timing, first beer on the house, race shirt, a dog toy for Fido, and front row seats at the post-race party. The entry fee is $20-50 for the main race and $15-30 for the Doggie Dash, depending on when you register.
Running With the Bears Marathon, Half Marathon, and 10K
For most of the year the people of Greenville go about their day-to-day lives in peace and quiet, enjoying the seclusion offered by their small Californian community. That is, until Running With the Bears roars into town. The three races offer two- and four-legged participants a chance to test their endurance in truly beautiful surroundings. Runners are rewarded with scenic views of lakes, forests and mountain peaks, which they can enjoy in cool August temperatures. The marathon (a Boston qualifier), half marathon and 10k are all pet friendly; the only rule is that dogs must be muzzled at the starting line. Fido even receives his own finisher’s medal for completing the course.
Running with the Bears starts from Goss Ranch in Greenville, CA. The races will take place on Aug. 17, 2019. Registration fees are $145 for the marathon, $135 for the half marathon and $105 for the 10k. Fido runs for free.