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Love running almost as much as you love man’s best friend? Well there’s a race for that. A number of courses throughout the country are not only dog-friendly, they actually cater to canines.
Each race will have its own set of rules, but most require pets be spayed or neutered, current on vaccines and on a non-retractable leash that’s no longer than six feet so you can keep your pup under control. Many also allow walkers or have 1-mile or shorter courses for those needing a lesser distance.
Here are some races that are going to the dogs:
- Dirty Dog 15K Trail Run—Annually in May in Charleston, W.Va.
This course got its name for a reason—it offers a challenging mix of single-track mountainous trail and dirt road in the Kanawha State Forest with rocks, roots and “wet stuff” that practically guarantee a doggy bathtime will be in store later. The finish line even provides dog treats to praise your pup for his incredible, albeit dirty run. Registration ranges from $15 to $35, and depends on when you register compared to other runners.
- Hair of the Dog 5K—Annually in May in East Windsor, N.J.
Taking place at Working Dog Winery, this race combines two of our favorite things: wine and puppies. Even better: Each runner receives a wine glass, free single wine tasting and free admission into the Chesterfest Wine Festival. As a bonus, proceeds from the race benefit local rescue groups.
- Salomon Trail Running Festival 5K Canicross—Annually in May in New Gloucester, Maine
This course sounds like dog heaven with its off-road, wide trails that roll through forests and past farmland on a mainly grassy surface. But it’s also hilly, organizers describe the terrain as “unrelenting” and temperatures can reach the 80s, so make sure Fido is in good shape. An aid station passed twice on the course provides water bowls for the pets (as well as water and sports drinks for their human companions, of course).
- Fast and the Furry 5K and 8K—Annually in May 30 in St. Paul, Minn.
Don’t wait until the last second to sign up for one of these courses, which are capped at 450 participants combined and filled up in early May last year. The twin races, which also feature a pet expo, raised $19,000 for animal charities in 2014 alone.
- Seattle Furry 5K—Annually in June in Seattle, Wash.
Taking a scenic route around Seward Park on Lake Washington, this race raises money for the Help the Animals Fund, which aids shelter animals. Looking to raise more for the group? You can set up a personalized website to ask your friends and family to help out with this worthy cause.
- Races for the Rescues: Southern California 5K & 10K—Annually in October in Pasadena, Calif.
At this race, you can not only run with your pup, you can also leave the race course with a new family member thanks to same-day dog and cat adoptions. Registration fees vary depending on the length of the race and whether you’re bringing Fido. The race is the largest annual fundraiser for The Rescue Train, a non-profit no-kill group.