The first six-legged team crossed the 5K finish line about 25 minutes after the Sunday race started.
The team included Heather Mills and her 6-year-old mutt dog Kobe, a beagle mix tethered to her waist.
They were about four minutes behind the first-place winner, who didn’t have a dog, but Mills and Kobe didn’t seem to be in it for the trophy.
“We love to run,” said Mills, who recently moved from Cary to Massachusetts.
Kobe was among dozens of dogs that ran Sunday morning in the 5K Hot Chocolate Run and Doggie Dash. At the end of the race, participants received a cup of hot chocolate in a mug they get to keep. The competition included a range of breeds and sizes. There was Freya, a tall and sturdy curly-haired, apricot colored labradoodle – who found almost every mud puddle – to Rita, a four-pound, prancing blonde Chihuahua who finished the race without a speck of dirt on her Christmas sweater.
The race was held by Fit & Able Productions, a nonprofit organization founded about 20 years ago to help get people in the area moving. The organization manages a variety of conditioning and running teams and events.
Sunday marked the third Hot Chocolate Run and SPCA Doggie Dash, which closed its registration Friday after a total of 500 people signed up to run in a dog-free, 9 a.m. 5K run. An 11 a.m. 5K and 11:45 a.m. fun run both included dogs, said Fit & Able founder and president Alisha Wright Colopy.
The $5 dog race fee went to the Wake County SPCA. Wright Colopy didn’t have this year’s fundraising total, which includes donations, by Sunday afternoon. Last year the event raised about $2,000 for the SPCA, she said.
Wake County SPCA volunteer Xochil Lopez, said the real beneficiaries are the dogs that the organization brings to this and similar events in the hopes that they will find their permanent home.
“A lot of dogs get adopted,” said Lopez, 19, of Garner.
Volunteer Jennifer Mills walked around with Sunday’s potential adoptee, a 4-year-old black and white medium size, bully-breed mix named Halo, with a tail wagging steadily as windshield wipers.
“She’s very talkative,” said Mills, 33, of Raleigh, between Halo’s barks and squeals.
Advantages of running with dogs, race participants said Sunday, include that the pets inspire their owners to exercise more, increase their times and pull them up hills in competitions. Disadvantages include potty breaks.
Charlie, a blond, 18-pound Cairn terrier, has cost his owner Pat Behrle some personal race records.
“Sometimes nature calls,” said Behrle, 58, of Raleigh. “And we stop.”
Jennifer Rau said her 6-year-old black Labrador retriever Madison typically takes the lead at the beginning of the race, but gets tired at the end. Still, it doesn’t take much to perk her up.
“Where’s the squirrel? Get the squirrel!” Rau, 33, of Cary, will say. “Then she goes.”