I like to think I have a lot in common with dogs. Loyal. Dependable. House-trained. Soft hair (when washed). But there’s one thing I do not share with a particularly incredible Bloodhound named Ludivine: I will never accidentally run a half-marathon.
— April Hamlin (@hamlin_april) January 21, 2016
But that’s exactly what Ludivine did earlier this year at the Elkmont Half Marathon in her Alabama hometown. We shared this unusual story when it first became news –and we even made a kickass video, too — but we wanted to learn more about this remarkable dog. We were fortunate to speak with Ludivine and her mom, April Hamlin, who (we like to think) were excited to talk to us, too!
Here’s the full scoop on how one dog’s jog turned into a viral sensation and an outpouring of community and charity.
January 16, 2016 started like any other Saturday in the small rural town of Elkmont, Alabama.
The Elkmont Half Marathon was taking place, but other than that, it was a typical winter weekend. As she often does on Saturdays, April let Ludivine out onto their beautiful 40-acre farm so the two-and-a-half year old could explore a little.
Bloodhounds like Ludivine (affectionately called “Lu” by family) are often natural “roamers.” After discovering that Lu possessed this Bloodhound trait in boatloads, April and her family made efforts to satisfy this natural curiosity by taking her on long walks, and limiting her “roaming time” to once a week. Nearly all of Elkmont’s 400 residents are accustomed to seeing Lu out and about on her weekly adventures. Smart and loyal, she always comes home, and helpful neighbors keep an eye out for her, too.
On this particular Saturday, Lu bounded out the door, and April didn’t think anything of it. Until, that is, she got this text from a co-worker:
While April thought the race medal was pretty fun, she assumed that people-lover Lu had wandered down to the post-race celebrations, or perhaps she’d jogged the last hundred feet of the course and the organizers gave her the medal for fun.
But then, another friend called, bubbling with excitement: the pal told April to come downtown right now, because people were going crazy for Lu! April rushed to the finish line where she discovered people posing for photos Lu, and hugging and congratulating the pup.
Only then did April learn that Lu had run — start to finish — an entire half-marathon. 13.1 miles of good old-fashioned Bloodhound roaming.
April was surprised. Despite Lu’s tendency to roam, she’s a pretty lazy dog overall. She’s much more likely to be caught doing this…
Not only did Lu run the half marathon, she kicked butt. She finished in an impressive 1:32:56, good for seventh place overall — out of 165 runners. And that time includes drifting off to sniff interesting smells on the roadside, saying hello to grazing cows, and taking who knows how many poops.
Only Ludivine knows. And maybe these two guys.
At this point, I had to ask April the ultimate dog owner question. The thing we all wonder about our dogs. Whether they’re doing something crazy or amazing or cra-mazing. “What do you think was going through Lu’s head?”
April admitted she’d thought about this a lot, and this is what she believes:
Lu is a hound dog. She loves people and adventure. When Lu got down to the start line, she saw people, she saw it was fun, and she wanted to be a part of it.
April noted from the race’s official photos that the run was initially all fun and games for Lu. You can see her bounding along, a crazy-happy grin on her face.
But at some point, Lu’s competitive juices started flowing, and she kicked it into high gear.
And although April tell us that Lu is a real goofball, it’s clear from this striking post-race portrait that she takes her running seriously.
After the race, Lu amazingly didn’t seem tired at all. Although she did, at one point, appear to be stuffed — apparently a fan gave Lu a piece of pizza, which she kindly accepted before rushing off to bury it in the ground, to save for later. (I totally get that, Lu. I mean, who hasn’t hidden the last piece of birthday cake from their co-workers in the back of the fridge. Maybe I am like dogs after all!)
Once Lu parted ways with her adoring admirers, the pooped pup passed out for a well-deserved slumber in the comforts of her own home.
But even though Lu had just run 13.1 miles, this was only the beginning of her journey. In the weeks that have followed, she has since skyrocketed to stardom, bringing attention to charitable causes and entertaining people and press with her incredible story.
The Limestone County Commission wanted to thank Lu for bringing goodwill to the area, so they presented her with (another) medal and an official proclamation. She was also named “First Dog of Limestone County.”
There she goes, giving out more kisses.
Lu’s story has attracted early interest in next year’s Elkmont Half, which has naturally been dubbed “The Hound Dog Half.” Like this year’s, the 2017 run will benefit the local high school. T-Shirts with this familiar face are already available.
Front of shirt (l), and back of shirt (r).
It’s been a whirlwind, but Lu has gotten gotten pretty comfortable with the press (and PDA, based on this video).
When I asked April to describe the best thing that’s come out of this entire(ly unexpected) experience, she said it was all of the good it’s done. After all, this isn’t just a funny story about a goofy dog who accidentally ran a half marathon, or a reminder about the benefits of exercise, or another example of how great our dogs are. Lu’s adventure has given the Elkmont community, as well as other groups, greater opportunities to connect with other people. However hilarious and unusual it may be, Lu’s story shines an unexpected and invaluable light upon worthwhile causes.
The natural-born runner has a busy schedule coming up. As Lu announced exclusively on her Facebook page, she is potentially running in a 5K in April, the benefits of which go to United Methodist Children’s Home.
Additionally, Lu will be participating in an upcoming Fun Run to raise more money for the high school cross-country team.
Although Lu is an adventurous Bloodhound who loves to roam, her family is taking extra measures to ensure she can explore safely on future outings. Lu was recently outfitted with a micro-chip at her local vet’s office.
Lu is also receiving helpful guidance from her friends at Dogwatch Hidden Fence, who are setting up an underground fence over a large portion of the property and training her on it.
Now, Lu will still be able to roam happily, but with a little less worry.
Despite all the attention she’s getting, Lu is the same old goofball she’s always been. She still gets crazy-excited whenever she hears the ice machine (Lu loves ice cubes), and she still loves playing with her siblings, including Ginger, a rescued German Shepherd puppy.
But if Lu does need to get her way, she can probably just throw on a couple of her many medals, right?
They kinda speak for themselves.
As remarkable as this tale is, it’s no surprise that a dog would lend a paw to supporting good causes. That’s just who dogs (and their humans) are. Lu’s evolving story serves as a powerful reminder that people and communities can come together to achieve great things. And a little push from a great pup never hurts.
Many thanks to April Hamlin for sharing her and Lu’s story with us!