The Elkmont Half-Marathon had 166 finishers in its inaugural year. The 166th “celebrity” runner, who incidentally finished in seventh place, was a two-and-a-half-year-old Bloodhound named Ludivine who’d wandered into the Alabama race by accident.
April Hamlin, 46, had let her dog out of the house to “do her business,” and Ludivine took it upon herself to join the running fundraisers. Elkmont’s Half Marathon, otherwise known as the Trackless Train Trek, was devised to raise funds for the local school system’s athletics program.
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) January 26, 2016
“[We] had let her out of her pen the night before and that’s where she ended up,” Hamlin, who is the guidance counselor at Elkmont High School, wrote on Facebook the day after the race. “We live on a farm, off the road, with acreage,” she later told ABC News. “[We] thought she was out sniffing around for a bit.”
Everybody in Elkmont knows Ludivine, so the pup’s solo stroll didn’t faze her owner. But her completion of the 13.1-mile run certainly did. “She’s laid back and friendly,” Hamlin explained. “She’s actually really lazy!”
Ludivine’s incredulous human companion was relieved when friends at the race sent her text messages to say they’d spotted her errant pup. “My first reaction was that I was worried she had gotten in the way of serious runners who had trained for the event,” Hamlin told Today via email. “And that Barry Pugh, the race coordinator (also a work colleague) would kill me.”
The competitive spirit quickly possessed the young dog, and she ended up running beside sixth-place finisher Tim Horvath, 52, for much of the race. Not without suffering numerous distractions, however.
“She had stopped to eat some roadkill rabbit that was in the road,” Horvath told Runner’s World. “When I got close to her she picked up her head and started running again, near me.”
— April Hamlin (@hamlin_april) January 22, 2016
An inviting creek, two bathroom breaks, and mingling with some cows absorbed her attention later in the race, but Ludivine kept up the pace regardless.
“Ludivine was bred to be a tracking dog at the local prison,” Hamlin told Today, “and was culled due to her inability to focus on the task at hand.” The distracted pup, having honed her attention enough to finish the race, galloped over the finish line just paces behind her running buddy Horvath with an impressive finish time of 1 hour, 32 minutes, and 56 seconds.
Hound Dog Half rescheduled until June 1, 2019…perfect time to visit North Alabama and see this girl! pic.twitter.com/FgcFPGfSfz
— April Hamlin (@hamlin_april) January 19, 2019
Ludivine’s new hobby might just have inspired Hamlin to pick up her running shoes. “I can’t run a mile in that time,” Hamlin joked on Facebook, “but Lu’s exceptional debut into running has me inspired.” After Ludivine crossed the finish line, awestruck volunteers placed a medal around the proud pup’s neck and started taking photos.
— April Hamlin (@hamlin_april) January 26, 2016
Hamlin was thrilled by the publicity her runaway pooch had brought to the race. “It’s the first half marathon in Elkmont,” she said, “and the people who started it are parents of the kids who run cross country. Because of this dog, they are getting so much publicity, and I think that’s the best part.”
Canadian Running Magazine informed its readers that Ludivine made such an impact that the race was renamed “Elkmont’s Hound Dog Half.” Ludivine for the win!