Ultrarunners are a breed unto themselves, and many are hard-pressed to find running buddies who can log the training distances required to prepare to race 100 miles. It's no wonder such a large number of them turn to canine companions who are as eager as they are to hit the trails.
Who are these dogs that can run 20, 30 or even 40 miles in one shot? Is it good for them? How did they develop their endurance?
Much like their owners, ultra dogs aren't built to merely stroll the city blocks. They crave the same mountain terrain and six-hour adventures that ultrarunners do. And experts say that, given the right attitude and desire--and careful supervision--feeding that enthusiasm will do them no harm, either.
"Any animal that trains will adapt and improve," says Jeff Young, a veterinarian in Denver.
Here are three such pooches who love the extremely long run:
Colt is a 4-year-old black Lab who accompanies the 2014 U.S. 50-mile trail champion on runs of up to 25 miles. His human, Chris Vargo, lets Colt cover such distances, however, only when the temperatures are cool and there is plenty of water and snow available along the way. The duo call Flagstaff, Arizona, home, where the altitude is 7,000 feet and the thermometer rarely reaches more than 80 degrees, even in the summer.
"When it's over 90 degrees, I don't run outside with Colt at all. I mean, he's a black Lab," Vargo says. "I don't want to kill him," adding that he's seen friends' dogs run into trouble at distances as short as 4 miles in the heat.
Colt typically hangs for about 10 miles on an average summer day. Like most four-legged friends, he prefers to be off-leash when the trail permits. He doesn't need to stray too far from home to get himself in trouble, however--close encounters with wildlife have happened in his own backyard.
"He barged his way out and beelined it toward a skunk. It sprayed him in the face right before he nailed it at full speed, slamming both of them against a fence," Vargo says. Like many a trail runner, Colt shook off the incident, wagging his tail on the back porch within 30 seconds, as if nothing had happened.
"He loves [running] more than I do," Vargo says, "and I love it a lot."
Few women out there have the running credentials of Super Bee's human, Emily Harrison, who is an Olympic marathon trials qualifier and the U.S. 50K road champion. She's also won several 50-mile races.
And Bee, as the 4-year-old border collie is affectionately called, can outrun Harrison most days. As soon as the running clothes come out, the black-and-white dog, who also resides in Flagstaff, jumps at the door in a full-body contortion of excitement.
Harrison doesn't track Bee's mileage with as much precision as she does her own but guesses that the canine regularly runs about 90 miles per week. Bee even ran 31 miles alongside Harrison at a training camp in California for the Western States Endurance Run. And when that 100-mile race didn't go as planned--Harrison was expected to contend for the win but had to drop out at mile 62--it was Bee who was there to greet her and try to lift her spirits.
"She was definitely a calming distraction before and after Western States," Harrison says. "After a bad day, her enthusiasm for the trails helped me remember why I love being out there."
For years Joelle Vaught was met each morning with a set of bright eyes in line with her 5 a.m. alarm. They were Ben's, the German shorthaired pointer who ran up to 100 miles per week by her side, sometimes logging 40 miles in one day. "I guess I just always thought he could run more than me," says Vaught, who most recently placed second at the 2014 The North Face 100K Australia.
The duo, often accompanied by Vaught's husband and neighbors, would be sure to hit the higher mountain trails of Boise, Idaho, for plenty of water, where Ben, 9 years old last spring, was notorious for chasing deer and elk. Those adventures would often take Ben in pursuit two peaks away, but he always seemed to find his way home, even if it was hours later--until earlier this year when he never made it back.
Vaught speculates that he could have met up with a wolf or mountain lion. "He knew his way home from anywhere in the foothills," she says.
Months later, Vaught is remorseful yet respectful of the life Ben led. She expects when the family is ready for a new furry friend, they will keep a closer (figurative) leash on the dog, without stifling natural instincts to run far and long.
Those instincts make dog and human relish each run. "They're so happy, it's hard not to have fun," Vaught says.
Not All Ultra Material
Some dogs just aren't built to go extreme distances, experts warn. Here are a few tips to keep in mind before you attempt to log 100 miles per week with your pooch.
Tip No. 1: A dog can run itself to death.
Respect the warning signs that you're pushing Fido too hard: If you need to resort to pushing, pulling or dragging a leashed dog, you are on the edge of abuse. "Just because you can train them to run doesn't mean they want to," says Jeff Young, a veterinarian in Denver.
Tip No. 2: Bring water.
Hydration is as critical to the furry friends as it is to all other runners.
Tip No. 3: Don't Stereotype.
Certain breeds aren't necessarily good or bad runners. Your dog's attitude can guide you. If Rover is clearly enjoying the experience, gradually allow him to do more. Just like humans, dogs need to build mileage at a safe rate to condition themselves.
Tip No. 4: Read body language.
For example, if the mutt's ears and tail are down, she's had too much, Young says.
Tip No. 5: Protect the paws.
Ultra dogs are most likely covering some brutal terrain. Emily Harrison likes to put cream that is used on sled dogs on her dog's paw pads. Young also recommends dog booties, although most canines won't tolerate them for such long distances.
- Do you drink or eat essential oils
- How do I watch Black Panther online
- What is calculated steel weight
- Do i have a personality disorder 4
- If cows are bovine what are sheep
- How has Devendra Fadnavis changed Maharashtra
- How do I resolve computer power problems
- How are organelles formed
- Why do students dislike history and mathematics
- Why do we stick our tongues out
- Why do we learn computer science
- Is VISITING illegal onion websites a crime
- What do people misunderstand about Kanye West
- Is NDA 2 easier than NDA 1
- What is the worst thing about dementia
- What led to the division of Korea
- Which company scooty is best for use
- Why is optometry a good career
- Why are British people mostly antisocial
- Who are some underrated singers you know