I am not sure if this has been discussed before, but I witnessed many troubling things this past weekend at an event and I am wondering if I am the only one who feels this way.
This past weekend, my 12 year old daughter and I ran a 5K race. It was a combo 10K/5K race. There were numerous dogs and strollers on the course. Both races ran the 5K route, which was through a neighborhood that also had dogs, cats, squirrels, kids playing in their driveways, etc. Needless to say, I don't agree with running in an event with a stroller or a dog. Yes, run with them while training, but an event is too much.
We witnessed two dogs, who's owners were running, get into a scuffle before the race. We witnessed another dog literally being dragged by the leash by the owner. To make matters worse, the leash was at least 9 feet long and we had to skirt around the dog, leash and owner into traffic. Near the 2.5 mile mark, my daughter nearly stepped in a pile of poop in the road. It could have been a neighborhood dog's droppings, but it was very fresh. And there was one Lab mix that was very interested in chasing squirrels, darting all over on the end of his leash. Very dangerous trying to navigate around him.
I wonder why race events don't curtail the pet running thing. This event had over 700 people, which included walkers with their young kids. Many kids were afraid of the dogs, especially after seeing the two dogs go at each other before the event.
Weight in and let me know what you think. I feel bad about not wanting dogs (and strollers) at racing events, but I feel it is a huge safety issue. Thanks everyone!!
I'll be brave enough to agree with you in public! I say "brave" because you can expect a lot of flak from the stroller/dog lover set. I love kids (I have two grandbabies) and I love dogs (I have two of those, too.) But when I'm running, especially in a race, I DON'T want to jockey around strollers and dogs on a leash. I purposely avoid races that advertise "Strollers and Dogs Welcome". Strollers and dogs make maneuvering along the course much more difficult and sometimes even dangerous. (If you've ever been nearly tripped by a leash while running, you know what I mean!)
I guess if lots of people like to run those kinds of races, then they can surely have races that cater to them and that's great - but I won't be there unless they make provisions that strollers, dogs and walkers LINE UP IN THE BACK!
I agree with Mary. I ran my first race with dogs and strollers and I almost tripped! then I was running a long a man who had one kid strapped to something on his shoulders and pushing another kid in a jog stroller. It was miserable listening to that little girl crying that her bottom hurt and he wouldn't stop... he kept saying "were almost there sweetie"
I love dogs, I have 2 of my own, I run with them on occasion, but I have to agree completely a race is nowhere for dogs. As far as strollers go if the course is not too narrow,yeah go for it! but please line up in back
I also get frustrated at large races where dogs and strollers are permitted, particularly if the course is too narrow to support them. I did a 5K on a nice, paved trail through the woods but the problem was that the trail was far too narrow for everybody. It made passing extremely difficult. People do not like it when you bump them, and they like it even less when you accidentally bump the stroller, but there wasn't a whole lot of room to get around. I accidentally ran over a pacifier some little toddler had thrown out of her stroller. The mother gave me such a nasty look but I didn't see the thing until it was too late.
I also did a second 5K where half the course was unpaved. The event organisers failed to note this on the course map. When some of the stroller people got to the unpaved, muddy and rocky mess they became disgruntled and tried to turn around back to the start line, causing a jam up where several people fell into each other and caused a ruckus.
If it's a small, family fun event with only a hundred or so runners, there's not a problem. But when you start getting up there, 300, 400, 500 runners on these narrow roads, forget about it.
Marine Corps Marathon or bust....
Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. -Isaiah 40:31
I half agree. I love running with my dog and do all of my training so far ( up to 13 miles and he is showing no sings of wanting to quit ) but I would never take him to a race unless it was a specific race meant to include dogs i.e. Six Legged Race, Paws for a Cuase, Pooches in Pink. I find it very irritating when races specifically say NO DOGS and people still show up with Fido. Strollers I am more in the grey area of thinking. I think that if a person plans to run with a stroller they should take the responsibility of checking out the course prior to to ensure that it is a stroller friendly route. If the route passes the stroller test then they should make sure to go to the end to start. Most of all to keep their priorities, is the child not feelling well? Guess you have to miss the race or find a sitter. I have had pretty decent experiences with people and running strollers thus far, the paths were large enough, races small enough so by time they caught up to me there was plenty of room to go around.
"SEA LEVEL IS FOR SISSIES" BolderBoulder
Totally agree with you. I have seen both the good and the bad here. I don't like to run near dogs or strollers, and have been to events that allow and deny both. Most major races do not allow strollers or dogs, but the small local stuff almost always does. There are alot of potential liability issues for animals; allergies, attacks, mess, etc. that people don't think about when they bring their dogs. I have seen a range of responses from flippant to hostile regarding people's reactions to dogs in races. Personally , I am not a fan, but it all comes down to the owners taking responsiblity, whether it be children or animals.
I run with my dog almost exclusively. However I only take her on small runs, under 1000 people and if approved by the coordinators. She's run in Half marathons and loves them. I mistakingly took her to a race that only had a few runners, but then when we showed up they had thousands of walkers. She was misserable and scared. From then on I really investigate before taking her to a race.
I don't worry about strollers as much as they don't jump out in front of people like dogs do!
I agree that dogs and strollers can be troublesome if not handled properly. I currently have 5 dogs that I run with on different days during training. Every one of them has been running with me since they were very young and are very acclimated to both running with me and in groups. My oldest dog is now 12, so she has put in a lot of miles over the years.
When I decide to take one of them to a race, I first see if there is anything specific on the race website stating 'No Dogs'. When I arrive, I check out both the course and the number of runners to see what the situation looks like. If everything looks good, then I will run with a dog. All of my dogs stay right by my side, on a short leash, as I try to limit any inconvenience to any other runners. They all know to sit beside me prior to the start and they do not do their business on the trail or road. They all pull off to the side of the road. The two that I take to most races do not go to the bathroom while running, so that is a bonus. The last thing I would want to happen is that someone complained about me having my dog at a race, as then it would prevent me from running it again with a dog.
I usually start up close to the front, as I run at a fairly fast pace and I find it less problematic to have a few people pass me rather than trying to cut though a bunch of people. This seems to work the best and hasn't caused any issues.
My dogs have become quite the celebrities around the area, as everyone expects to see them at races. I think that people are now recognizing my dogs more than me at most of the races. Many of the race directors know me well and they know that I would never want to jeopardize any apsect of a race.
I will admit that I have witnessed a number of other runners, with dogs, that don't seem to take everything into consideration. You have to respect other runners, have a dog that is well behaved, runs right beside you, is on a short leash, does not just stop and do their business on the trail, and generally just keep running the main point. Whenever I see a dog that isn't well behaved, my first thought is that they are ruining it for repsonsible owners and dogs, and that's at a race or just out in the general public.
My last point is that I have witnessed more extremely rude behavior by humans, during races, than I have ever seen in any dogs that are running. Now, if we could eliminate rude humans from races, I think we would have something.
I agree with the last comment. I run with both a stroller and a dog (used to run with 2 dogs). But I also would like to think of myself as a very respsonsible and respectful dog/stroller runner.
My husband was deployed for a year to Afghanistan, and I didn't want to miss out on training and racing opportunities for a year (or pay extra for a babysitter at 4:30 in the morning so I could run a 5:30 race). So running with a stroller was a must. My daughter can sometimes be cranky, but she's also been in the stroller since she was 6 months old and very happy to be part of the race. I always start towards the back and am extremely cautious not to run too close to other runners, as I know how it feels to be "run over" by a stroller from behind. She has helped me train for several marathons and has participated in races up to 15.5 miles. I have never had anyone complain about the stroller (at least within earshot).
And I take the same cautious approach when running with my dog. She has been running with me for 6 years and stays at my side even when off-leash. She is extremely well-trained to ignore other dogs when running and focuses on the job at hand. Like the previous dog-runners, I only bring her when the race is small, if there is no wording that prohibits dogs, and if I know the course will be dog-friendly. She, too, becomes a bit of a celebrity because people recognize her or are impressed that she can hang with us. We stay out of the way and pass with a wide berth, and keep her from pestering anyone before or after the race unless they allow her to give them kisses.
The same could be said for "newbie" runners at races who stop and walk in the middle of a race, cutting folks off. Or people who run a race 5-across so no one can get around them. Or the slower runners/walkers who start in front of the faster runners... Every race has its contingency of annoyances depending on your patience level, speed, and expectations. I do understand the concerns and frustrations of non-dog owners and non-parents, (or runners who choose not to bring their dogs/kids), and try very hard to be the exception to their grumbles--not an addition to them.
I guess in the end it all boils down to responsible parents and owners. I'd like to think that the obnoxious folks who do embarrassing things at shopping malls or ballgames don't represent the entire spectrum of human beings, and I'd hope that people recognize that one or two not-so-smart runners don't represent all of us with dogs and kids. I love that I can get exercise and a sense of community, and have fun that includes my whole family--four-legged-kids, too!
I really appreciate the insight to this question. One thing I forgot to mention at the start is that the race I was referring to clearly stated: No Strollers, No Pets, No Headphones. - Yes, way too many people with their IPODS. I am an IPOD user while running, but not if the event says not to.
I agree that strollers in the back of the pack is fine. I also agree that strollers starting in the back and working their way to the front is fine. The two or three strollers running much slower abreast so people can not pass...not so good.
I also have witnessed runners who either are unaware or ignorant during a race, such as the stopping in the middle of the road/trail, bending over to tie shoes without pulling to the side, spitting incorrectly (yuck) and more. I am constantly reminding my daughter to pull off to the side safely before slowing down, not to stop in the middle of intersections or going around a corner.
I also agree that running with your dog is a great way for both to get exercise and to bond. But with children, other dogs, cops, sirens, bullhorns, etc., is it really fair to the dog and to the other participants? I guess that my major concern is that over 700 runners were at this event, lots of automobile traffic (roads were not closed) and the event specifically stated No Dogs, then why do people still do it?
We have an annual Turkey Trot here that brought over 5,000 runners last year. It is advertised as a family event. All promotional materials say dogs, strollers and walkers are welcome. They constantly encourage dogs and strollers to start in the rear. Generally it works out ok even with so many runners, but I don't know for sure as I am usually in the front 25%.
The key is to not enter a race unless you know for certain that dogs and/or strollers are welcome! Then recon the route to be sure you won't encounter any obstacles such as a narrow route, gravel, etc. Lastly, if your dog has not been running/training with you and is accustomed to races DO NOT bring it unless you are walking in the rear of the formation.
My wife trains almost daily with our Springer Spaniel. He knows his duty on race day and is more excited and focused than any human racer. She never takes him to a race without knowing for certain he will be welcome. We try to warm him up ahead of time so he can take care of any bowel issues to avoid the trouble on the route. He has completed a half marathon and many 5Ks.
Runners--do your homework on race and train with your dog or kid/stroller and all should be fine.
I've got 2 dogs who are my running partners. My older dog (now 12) has trained for a half marathon with me, but she is no way capable of handling an actual race. The crowds, the noise, etc, are all just too much for her. I'm sure she wouldn't like getting her paws stepped on when cramming together at the starting line. Plus, who wants to feel a wet nose sniffing on the back of their knees!! My younger dog (more recently adopted, age 3) is just figuring out this running thing. Both are lab mixes who have BIG hearts, but tiny little brains. I love my running partners, but they're no racers. And interestingly enough, they're labs mixed with greyhounds!! That being said, they are friendly, happy doggies who love going out for walks and sitting outside coffeeshops. So in no way are they impersonable, just not racers. They always carry their share of the plastic pick up bags too!! Leave no mess behind
I think more races should be dog friendly. I train with my dog all the time and have run many 5k and 10k races with her. We have won several races together. The presence of a dog (or a stroller) isn't the issue. The issue is the responsibility of the runner. To me passing a dog is no different then having to pass the walkers who line up at the start line, or the run/walkers who suddenly stop in front of you, or the child on the course who sprinted off the start line. Running a race is all about courtesy and etiquette. Personally I would rather have to avoid a dog on the course, with a responsible owner, then 10 irresponsible walkers who lined up near the front of a big marathon and linked arms taking up most of the road. (An experience I had at San Diego RnR Marathon) Several dog people have commented as to the responsible steps they take. Researching races, field size and taking into account the weather. That is a very good thing. In races I have had kids, slow runners, injured people, spectators, bicycles, etc. all impede progress. It is part of racing. Most dog owners I have seen take responsibility. As any runner should. There are some common sense things for runners with dogs. No dog should be run on a retractable leash. In a race or otherwise. They are dangerous to the dog, the owner, and innocent bystanders. (I have seen these perils first hand, 10 years as a professional animal trainer and time as a vet tech, but that is another story.) Personally I walk my dog before every race making sure she poops. Then still carry bags with me. Fortunately I have not needed to stop for a clean up during the race, but would if I had to. Again, it all comes back to being a competent, courteous runner. If you are going to run a 5 hour marathon, you don't line up at the front of the pack. If you have a dog you line up to the outside of the pack with the dog to your outside. My dog will mostly run on my left or in front of me. So I always line up to the outside left. Or if we are planning on winning, I line up in the front. I do this for her safety more then anything else. I have also found out that as far as other runners, spectators, race officials, and media, they often love seeing well behaved animals at the events. My dog and I finished second at a dog friendly 5k. The winning runner did not have a dog. But myself and the third place individual both did. In the end, no one really cared about the winner. Everyone was excited about the dog vs dog sprint going into the final turns. With so few events allowing dogs the emphasis should not be placed on banning dogs even further but on educating runners about simple running/racing etiquette. It doesn't matter if it is a dog, a stroller, a child runner, 2 or 3 people side by side, a walker, or an inexperienced newbie. For the most part running and racing is simple. All one needs is a good pair of running shoes and some commons sense. Runners should be responsible for their actions and aware of their surroundings.
Just an added note for people who think dogs are ok only if started at the back of the pack. If the event has say 500 people, and you have a fast runner and a fast dog that is required to start at the back of the pack, then that is 499 people the pair has to run around. Runners should ALWAYS make every attempt to line up at the start according to their ability and based on their expected finishing time.