Despite thunderstorms, rain and a muddy track, 48 bulldogs waddled their way onto the racetrack at Canterbury Park Saturday in the fifth annual Running of the Bulldogs.
And 10,894 spectators braved the weather to cheer on the bulldogs, which were separated into four heats and ran a distance of about 49 yards. The three fastest dogs move on to a championship dog race in July.
Owners gathered at the finish line shouting words of encouragement, waving treats and holding their pets’ favorite toys to try and get the bulldogs to run faster. When the race began, some of the dogs bolted to the finish line, some ran towards the track exit and others just sat in the mud.
The Running of the Bulldogs was originally scheduled for May 30, but the race was pushed back due to high temperatures.
Mary Burnett’s bulldog Oscar took ninth in his heat, but she was just happy for the opportunity. After watching the Running of the Bulldogs four years ago, Burnett tried to enter Oscar in the race for the next three years, but lingered on the waiting list. The list is generally at least 25 dogs long, according to Canterbury Park Media Relations Manager Jeff Maday.
Thanks to some dogs dropping out after the postponement, Oscar’s chance for stardom was finally at hand. The crowds were intimidating for Oscar, as he was too shy to walk on to the track. After being carried to the starting line, Oscar ran towards his favorite ball at the finish line.
Some owners, such as Kevin Brooks, attempted to train their dogs for the race. Brooks took his dog Bo out to the backyard, measured out the distance the race would be and encouraged Bo to chase after his favorite toy. Bo fared better than Oscar but not well enough to move on, taking fifth place in his heat.
Bulldogs that won their heats and will continue to the championship:
4. Frank the Tank
7. Winston M
11. Chloe Piper