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Five times animals jumped into running races

Every now and then, runners are treated to mid-race visits from surprise four-legged guests

At the 100m final of the Balkan U20 track championships in Istanbul, a cat managed to get onto the track, almost tripping several competitors as they raced for the finish line. The cat was lucky, and it managed not to get hit as it scurried from one side of the track to the other. This is not the first time an animal has jumped into a race, and it probably won’t be the last. Here are a few other instances when animals have found themselves in the middle of running races. 

Dog runs part of Mumbai Marathon 

At the 2015 Mumbai Marathon in India, a stray dog found its way onto the course and ran alongside competitors for the final 10K. After the race, runners who saw the dog said they recognized it as a stray that could often be seen near a local temple. It was easy to identify this dog in particular, because it only had one eye. Thankfully, after the dog had finished its race with the 40,000 or so humans who ran that day, it was reportedly seen back home where it lived. 

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Seventh-place finish for Alabama bloodhound 

At a half-marathon in Alabama in 2016, a bloodhound named Ludivine joined runners at the start line. When the gun sounded and the race began, she took off with the leaders. While she did stop every now and then to sniff around, she always got back to the race, ultimately finishing in seventh place with a final time of 1:32:56. Since she ran the whole course, race officials even gave her a medal. 


Ultrarunning dog

When Australian ultrarunner Dion Leonard noticed a little dog following him in the middle of the Gobi March, a 250K stage race in China, he didn’t think much of it. “I started to think, ‘this dog isn’t going to last the whole day,'” he told the BBC after the run. Leonard was wrong about that, and the dog, which he would eventually name Gobi, ran by his side for four of the six stages of the race, covering 125K. He and Gobi formed such a strong bond that Leonard adopted the pup, eventually bringing her home to Scotland, where he now lives.

Dog finishes the Marathon des Sables 

At the 2019 Marathon des Sables, one of the most brutal running events in the world, a dog named Cactus joined the race. Cactus (which is a name he was given after he started running) started running near the end of the race’s second stage, and he stayed with the group for the rest of the event. He ended up crossing the finish line ahead of the first-place human, but he wasn’t given an official time because he started the race later than everyone else. However, officials still gave him a medal for his tremendous run.

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Dog interrupts track race

At the 2016 Carifta Games in St. George’s, Grenada, a dog appeared on the track in the middle of the U18 girl’s 100m race. Much like the cat in Istanbul, the dog got in the way of the runners, forcing one athlete to move around it. Even though she had to dodge the dog, she still managed to finish in second place in the race. When it comes to road or trail races, animals joining the runs can be entertaining. On the track, it’s a different (and potentially dangerous) story. With that in mind, be sure to use a leash for your dogs next time you hit up a track meet. 

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