Running with — or without — the dogs

Posted April 18, 2011, at 11:04 p.m.

ROCKLAND, Maine — For weeks, Scott Browning has been working with five kids and a bunch of dogs to get ready for the big race. At 9:30 a.m. Saturday, April 23, the group plans to reach its final goal: Run the Run-A-Hound 5K race in Rockland. The race is a fundraiser for the Youthlinks program.

“It’s to get people out and exercising with their dogs. It’s open to big dogs, small dogs, runners without dogs, anyone who wants to help contribute to the program by participating in this race,” said Browning, a program manager at Youthlinks.

Youthlinks is a nonprofit based in Rockland that gives free after-school programming to 11- to 17-year-olds. Aside from the dog-running program, the nonprofit has cooking, gardening, hiking, bike-fixing and other activities for teens.

The 5K race is the culmination of a six-week after-school program. Twice a week Browning and five or six teens jump in a van to either the Humane Society of Knox County or the Camden Animal Rescue League. Each runner is then assigned a dog that’s about as fast as the runner. Then, they find a nice trail.

“We venture to all different areas in the midcoast to find good running spots and we match every person with a dog and our mileage ranges. We’ve been training for this 5K. All the students in the program, they’ve been doing this training with the goal of completing the 5K at the end,” Browning said.

Mostly, the teens run larger dogs, but the 5K will be open to everyone. Except mean dogs. Mean dogs should stay home, Browning said. “We are encouraging people to come out with any size dog. I have a group of people with smaller dogs who will walk the 5K.”

Although the program is offered free to teens who want to participate, there are costs involved. This race, which costs $10 per person, will help pay for the fuel used to transport the students and dog harnesses they use to run with the dogs.

The Run-A-Hound 5K race will start and finish at Youthlinks near Rockland District High School on Broadway at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, April 23. The race will follow Broadway.

There will be door prizes, snacks for runners and awards. Registration is $10 for runners with a dog, $15 for dogless runners and $8 for students.

For more information, call 594-2221 or visit www.youthlinksonline.org/runahound5k.

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