Come, Sit a Spell: Ludivine, the Unlikely Marathon Placing Pooch
Celebrating the Alabama Bicentennial 2019 Theme: Our Stories
The Elkmont High School Cross Country and Track teams' boosters and students took on the 10K race formerly hosted by the Elkmont Lions Club in 2016 and created the Trackless Train Trek Half-Marathon. The aptly named race took its moniker for the portion that ran the converted railroad bed that is now the Richard Martin Rails-to-Trails.
The 13.1 mile race was set for January, one of the few times of the year in Limestone County when the scenic Rails-to-Trails and surrounding community wasn't sweltering in the heat and humidity. The race garnered runners from all over the Southeast and beyond -- including one very unlikely, unregistered but not unloved four-legged haphazard participant, Ludivine.
Ludivine, a 2 and a half year old Bloodhound with roots to a serious tracking hound Otis of the Limestone Correctional Facility, happened to make her way to downtown Elkmont the day of the race. Not an unusual feat, she was a wanderer who was known to locals for her friendliness. An Alabama resident, Tim Horvath, was quoted by a UK Telegraph article recounting the day, "I saw her for the first time in the parking lot before the race... She came bouncing up and I petted her on the head. I saw her collar, so I just figured she was somebody's dog. Elkmont is a small town where everyone knows everybody, so it didn't strike me as unusual."
Ludivine settled into the pack of runners at the starting line in downtown Elkmont and again no one seemed to bat an eye at this unlikely pup among them. The young canine seemed to choose her bestow-er of her earlier head pats, Tim Horvath, as her race "partner". When starting pistol fired, Ludivine set off on her adventure of the day at the head of the pack. She set her pace but her dedication to stay on route was another matter, after all she's a dog bred for a nose to seek things out.
A fellow racer was quoted by Runner's World, "Every time I thought she had dropped off to go back home, I would hear her coming back up to me, and she would race past me up to the two leaders." Clements who finished in fourth place overall with a time of 1:23:15 continued, "She would romp through streams and into yards to sniff around for a while."
Horvath recounted to Runner's World his adventure with the young canine as well, explaining she peeled off at mile 2 of the race when her nose took her to investigate a dead rabbit and he finally caught up with her. It was at that point that she made her move to stay within 50 meters of Horvath but kept being struck by wanderlust to venture on and off the race route. He recalled one adventure , "One time she went over and met another dog next to the course... Later on, she went into a field with mules and cows. Then she'd come back and run around our legs. I wondered if she was going to get tired or go back to wherever her home was."
Ludivine finished seventh out of 165 official runners with a time of 1:32:56 to the amazement of awestruck volunteers. Even though she hadn't registered, the organizers gave her a participation medal and she was snapped by the race's photographer crossing the line. The Charlotte Observers lead-in captured what to was to fascinate runners, media outlets, and public for time to come, "The top female finisher at the Trackless Train Trek half-marathon in Elkmont was the smallest, lightest runner in the entire race, but she did have one major advantage. She had four legs."
In an interview with CNN, her owner April Hamlin explained, "Apparently she went to the race start and took off with the runners at the starting shot. She stayed with a few of the front runners, ran off to sniff some animal carcasses, romp in the water, and then back to the race. I understand she stayed on the course for 13.1 miles, finished seventh, and was the highest placed female."
Ludivine, often with owner April Hamlin, became the center of attention with headlines not only in the United State but also in Greece, Spain, the United Kingdom and countless domains around the internet. There were even a variety of television appearance for the pair spreading the pup's unlikely tale of inspiration. Hamlin explained on numerous occasions that Ludivine doesn't train with anyone - she herself isn't a runner, "She's laid-back and friendly, so I can't believe she ran the whole half-marathon because she's actually really lazy."
With all the headline coverage and an unlikely ambassador of good, the inaugural Trackless Train Trek was rechristened the Elkmont Hound Dog Half-Marathon. It's continued to be organized by the Elkmont Cross-Country and Track teams boosters and students as a fundraiser for both programs and equipment needs at Elkmont High School and Ardmore High School. Ludivine has made a few supervised visits to runners at the start of the race but hasn't made any efforts to beat her time. However, there are some rumors abound that the young pup may be in training to run with the pack again.
A sampling of what you'll find in downtown Elkmont: