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Saturday, May 21, 2011 -- Charleston, WV
Dirty Dog 15K Trail Run (iPO Event Id#: 13298)

2011: [Details] [Coverage] [Photos] [Overall Results] [Results by Class]

[2006] [2007] [2008] [2009] [2010]

    Quick numbers: 214 entrants, 200 starters, 195 finishers, a record race. We will make some targeted changes for next year by expanding the award categories, upping the T-shirt guarantee, online registration, etc. I hope everyone enjoyed themselves.

    --- Daniel Todd, DD15K Race Director

"Record Rainfall Makes for Muddy Paws"

Story and photos by Julie Black.

Dirty Dog 15K Trail Run photo by Julie Black
See more Dirty Dog photos by Julie Black
With the massive amounts of rain fall that West Virginia has received this spring (5.53 inches in March and 7.43 inches in April to be exact), the trails were good and muddy for every paw and foot.

But the muddy trails did not deter record numbers of runners and doggies from showing up to challenge the 15K on such a beautiful day in May.

From it's start in 2004, this event has been held on the trails of Kanawha State Forest, located just 7 miles outside of the state capitol.

The mix of single track and dirt roads, rolling hills and rocky ruts has attracted racers from all over the country and past year events have boasted that 50% of them were out-of-state!

Top Dog Award

"Jack" and owner Randy Gibbs of Sitka, Ohio holds the most titles in this category. Jack is a three-peat contender winning from 2006-2008.

Top Dog Macey and Clay Warner
Top Dog photo by Daniel Todd.
This year, a female dog by the name of "Macey" and her owner Clay Warner of Beckley, WV finished 3rd overall with a time of 1:12:11 to take home the 'Top Dog' honors. Clay Warner also took 3rd place last year with two of his other dogs.

Battle for First

About 400 yards from the finish line, 32 year old Robert Smith and 28 year old Zachary Beckett, both from Huntington WV, began to run shoulder to shoulder. Beckett was leading down a rocky patch of trail when I took his picture. Smith followed and sprinted towards him once the trail flattened out.

The photo I snapped was of the two of them sprinting through the trees, pushing each other to run faster. Beckett was able to stay just ahead of Smith to take the overall win in 1:09:09, while Smith crossed in second, literally a second later (1:09:10).

Finishing within seconds of one another after running little more than 9-miles is almost unheard of, but I am reminded of the 2008 Highlands Sky 40 Miler when Zach Irelan had Joel Wolpert lapping at his heels nearly the entire 40 mile race. They both crushed the 6-year old course record and Jody Lehmann added, "Well, when two young studs push each other, this is what you get."

Harry Bruner Jrs dog
Harry Bruner Jrs happy dog. Photo by Julie Black
The first and second place women finished back to back, but the times were not nearly as close. Both locals of Charleston, WV, Gina Thomas and Megan Hevener are also similar in age.

Thomas finished 18th overall out of a field of 195 to take home the first place female honors with a time of 1:23:26. Thirty seconds behind her, Hevener followed in second with her final time of 1:23:56.

Teri Hudson traveled from Columbus, Ohio to take the third place women's prize in 1:33:36.

An honorary 'shout-out' to my friend Bruce Miller who made this his first ever trail running race. He finished 9th overall with a time of 1:16:16 and took second in his age group. Way to go Bruce!

After the race was over, racers were treated to fruit, and many homemade treats compliments of Daniel's wife Tracey. I especially liked the blue rice-crispy treats.

Thanks to all who donated pet care supplies that went to the Kanawha/Charleston Humane Association. And thank you Dan and Jodi Lehmann of WVMTR for the timing. Don't miss their next event, the Highlands Sky 40 Miler on June 18.

I'll leave you with one of the best quotes I've ever heard about the race . . .

"This is the only race I know of where dogs are treated better than people." said Harry Bruner Jr. with a smile while petting his adorable, 12-year old mutt.