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Saturday, May 17, 2008 -- Charleston, WV / Kanawha State Forest
Dirty Dog 15K Trail Run- MSTR #3 (iPO Event Id#: 10706)

[Details] [Coverage] [Photos] Results: [Overall] [By Class] [Dogs]
Coverage: [2006] [2007]

Story by Don Parks with photos by JR Petsko (and a few more photos by Don Parks, too)

Dog and Runner
A beautiful morning for a run with (or without) your dog
After a week of rain the clouds finally cleared on Friday night and gave way to a beautiful sunny morning in the Kanawha State Forest for the fifth running of the Dirty Dog 15K Trail Run. The trails were still a little wet and mud along with slippery rocks and roots would be adding to the challenge for this year.

The men, women, and dogs packed the starting line as the signal was given at 9:00am to get the racing underway. The course is basically a clockwise loop through the forest. You start by making you way up to a ridge top, then you race along the ridge before heading back down and up another ridge. You finish with a run along this opposite ridge line before descending to the finish.

When the runners had made their way toward the top of the ridge at the two mile mark it looked to be a three man race. Jacob Malcomb, Michael Bee, and Randy Gibbs had almost a minute lead over the rest of the field. Gibbs' four-legged companion Jack also looked in great shape to be top dog once again.

However, lurking behind this lead group was defending race champion and course record holder Jason Bryant. Was he off his form this year or was he just pacing himself for a strong finish?

Log Jump
The week of rain was still evident on the course... and the runners
As the race progressed Malcomb pulled away at the front and went on to post a comfortable win by almost two minutes at 1:04:15. This impressive run broke the course record by 5 seconds and was over a one minute improvement over Malcomb's third place finishing time of a year ago.

While Bryant wasn't able to match his winning time from a year ago he was able to catch and pass Gibbs and Bee on his way to claiming second at 1:06:26. Whether or not he surged or they faded, his early pacing paid off.

Gibbs and Bee battle neck and neck to the end with Bee able to out sprint Gibbs to the line to claim third at 1:07:56. While Gibbs came up short of reaching the top three podium he did more than enough to pace Jack to a three-peat as top dog at 1:07:57. In the process he set a new canine course record by almost three full minutes.

On the women's side Alison Bryant looked on pace to easily set a new course record with a big lead as she approached aid station three at the five and a half mile mark. Unfortunately this is the point where Bryant missed a left turn and unknowingly shortcut the course. Being the good competitor that she is she immediately disqualified herself from the race. Bryant was not the only one confused at the same intersection and the race officials will be sure to have it better marked in future races.

Dog Jump
A great day for all in the Kanawha State Forest
Bryant's misfortune left the women's race to a battle between Meg Schuerger and Heather Parks. Parks was winning the battles up the hills but Schuerger was winning back the time with her deft downhilling skills. The downhill finish played nicely into the hands of Schuerger as she was able to hold off Parks in a sprint to the line with a time of 1:21:44 and 1:21:45, respectively. The girls pushed each other hard enough to just miss setting the course record by eleven seconds.

Keeping pace with Mrs. Parks the whole way was her canine companion Sunny. Sunny was the fasted female dog of the day and the third dog overall. The second place overall fastest dog title went to Reacher who was escorted to the finish by his master Zach Workman in a time of 1:20:57.

The sun continued to shine as all the runners, two and four legged, made their way to the finish. You would think that bringing several dozen dogs together in a crowd of well over a hundred racers, friends, and family would be a recipe for disaster. Amazingly, it was one of the most friendly and festive post-race celebrations I've ever attended with respectful dog owners and many a well mannered canine. I'd like to see how a Dirty Cat trail run would go...