On Saturday, January 30th at 8 a.m., the dogs were let out at the 15th Annual Run for the Paws 5K. This event has been supported by thousands of participants and their canine companions throughout the span of 15 years. For 2021, due to COVID, the number of participants were capped at 250, but still, on a chilly morning, Fido and their humans came out to support this good cause.
First–time walkers and runners enjoyed the scenic flat course around the perimeter of the Naples Airport with the roar of the jet engines in the background.
You see them every day, this unique bond between Fido and humans, walking around the neighborhood. And it did not take much training for both to make it to the finish line for the 15th Run for the Paws 5K.
Ella and Finn, both cockapoos, were first–time canine participants from Marco Island and they brought with them their human companions, Julie and Kaya Tarhan. All agreed that it was such a great event for a wonderful organization.
COVID rules were enforced with masks and face coverings, and social distancing was required pre- and post-race. Participants tried to stay at least six feet apart. The “runners without dogs” started first followed by those running or walking with Fido.
The Dog Leg of the race was dedicated to the duo of Fido and humans. Clearly, the pooches were out of their elements and so were their humans. The start was a chaotic display of anxious pooches of all breeds and sizes. It was a chariot of fur at the start with most of the pooches pulling hard trying to catch up with the pack leaders.
For the comfort of all pooches, water bowls were placed throughout the course. For their human companions, there were no water stops but there were hand sanitizing stations. At the finish line, canine participants were awarded goodie bags with treats and toys inside and the humans had snacks, water, and Gatorade.
Congratulations to all Marco Island participants and their canine companions who finished strong. It was a family affair for the Cholka family – Robert, Jean, Kyle and Nicole; Wade Keller, Judi Lewis, Kaya and Julie Tarhan and Maria and Charles Lamb.
Michelle Hurtley of Marco Island was at the race to support her dad, Wade Keller, who came in second in his age group (74-79). “I am so proud of my father, Wade Keller, but also the number of wonderful islanders that took part in this great event. Kudos to GCR (Gulf Coast Runners) for their excellent efforts to make in-person runs possible in these unusual times.”
Wade Keller also wanted to thank the Gulf Coast Runners, organizers of this event, for providing people with the opportunity to run and/or walk with their pet dogs. This is the only dog friendly 5K in Naples and surrounding area.
Proceeds from the race will help orphaned pets at the Humane Society Naples (HSN). It had been a challenging year for pet adoption but despite COVID, HSN was able to rescue 2,000 orphaned animals providing them with love, support and in some cases, the lifesaving care they needed to help them find new happy homes. HSN is a no-kill shelter providing sanctuary for all animals in need.
Overall, it was a tail wagging day! Finished times and videos are now posted and award pick-up instructions can be found at the Gulf Coast Runners website at: www.gcrunner.org.
Please save the date: February 13, 2021, Naples Golden Eagle 5K, Lowdermilk Park, Naples. For more information visit: www.gcrunner.org.