How to prepare for the Rocky Dog Trail Run at the GoPro Mountain Games |

How to prepare for the Rocky Dog Trail Run at the GoPro Mountain Games

Tom Boyd
Vail Valley Foundation

If you have run in races solo while your pooch is sitting on your favorite barcalounger at home watching Animal Planet, the Rocky Dog Trail Run at the GoPro Mountain Games on Thursday, June 6, is the perfect opportunity to share your love of racing with your best friend. And, if you do some pre-race training, you’ll be able to brag about how well behaved your pooch is.

You’ll need a good leash with a collar or a harness for your dog. The hands-free design is great for running, especially if your dog is a bit of a puller. You’ll be able to gauge your dog’s pull strength pretty quickly through your training. Know that pulling is exacerbated when your dog wants to “connect” with wildlife such as rabbits, deer or birds. A shorter leash — about 4 feet long from the shank connection to the waist strap — is an ideal length. One with a bungee-type connection reduces the amount of torque if your dog is pulling.

Spend some time in advance around other dogs. Race day provides the ultimate socialization experience. The more your dog has interacted with others prior to the race, the better prepared he or she will be for the race … and you too. Not knowing how your dog will interact can be a daunting prospect.

Think about your routine before you race and add to that, the needs of your dog. How many times do you use the restroom? Think about what you’ll do with your dog if you visit the port-a-potties. This is where having a friend watch Fido while you are indisposed is a good idea. And, your dog may also need to relieve himself or herself before the run (and sometimes during the run). Carry an appropriate amount of poop bags with you.

At the starting line

At the race start, there is much excitement and anticipation, primarily from your dog. Keep your pet under control with a short leash and calming words. Sniffing is common, and your dog may drool on itself, or share spittle with neighbors in close proximity. (Be sure your dog is current on his or her vaccinations.)

The nervousness you may feel on the start line may continue on course as you worry about entangling with other dogs. Stay focused and be mindful not only of your dog, but where you are in relation to other dogs and their owners. This event provides an opportunity for you to bond with your dog, as well as those around you, so slow down and enjoy your time together. Strike up a conversation. Learn about your fellow racer’s training. Compare notes. Brag about your dog and gush over how cute your new friend’s dog is. Slowing down also gives you a chance to fully enjoy the experience.

The finish line will come before you know it. Praise your dog’s excellent behavior, get to the refreshment area and think about signing up for next year’s race.

See you at the races!

Tom Boyd is the director of public relations and the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater for the Vail Valley Foundation, which puts on the Mountain Games each year, among other valleywide events. For more information on the foundation or on the Mountain Games visit

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