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Monday, May 5, 2014

Pittsburgh Marathon Purina Pro Plan Pet Walk

Yesterday, I ran a marathon.  Blogging about a 26.2 mile race seems roughly as exhausting as running one, at least when you're still emotionally and physically exhausted from the trek, so I've decided to tackle something a little bit lighter while I regain my energy.

The Hotdog Princess, ready to run!

Puppies!  Specifically, the Purina Pro Plan Pet Walk on the Saturday of Pittsburgh Marathon weekend.

Greg, Spencer, and I enjoy the Pet Walk course along the Allegheny River.

This year marked the second annual Pet Walk.  While the rules seem to imply that any well-mannered pet would be welcome, and my husband and I always hope to see some sort of exotic animal companion, the field seems to consist solely of the canine variety.  The Pet Walk enjoys a stroll of roughly one mile around Pittsburgh's beautiful and historic Point State Park.

Human and canine participants gathered at the Point State Park starting line.

In the spirit of Pittsburgh spring sports, the family and I donned our favorite Pittsburgh Pirates gear as well as an assortment of accessories from our friends at the Animal Rescue League and their charity racing syndicate, Paws Over Pittsburgh.   The Animal Rescue League not only cares for homeless dogs, cats, and domestic animals, but they also are the only shelter in Pittsburgh that rehabilitates wild animals and helps reintroduce them to their natural habitat.  Needless to say, this family of animal lovers is always happy to support this worthy organization.

Spencer models the Paws Over Pittsburgh bandana.

I'm hoping that we will continue to see the pet walk each year as part of the marathon weekend.  I suspect, based on the Pittsburgh Marathon's push to secure entrants for the Pet Walk in the weeks leading up to the event, that the participation is not what they hoped.  I don't know enough about event planning to estimate the cost for the walk or whether the event makes a sizable amount of money for the Animal Rescue League, but I do know that my pet and my family had a blast!  My hope is that participation in this event will grow each year so that all Pittsburgh pet lovers can enjoy it while raising funds for this cause.

Dogs big and small enjoy a walk around Point State Park.

The main event consists of the one mile walk, and an assortment of other activities abound in the park.  The walk itself is a great way for pets and their owners to enjoy the unique 36 acre state park nestled in the middle of Downtown Pittsburgh.  Having grown up in Pittsburgh, I take the park somewhat for granted, but it's pretty remarkable that our city includes three beautiful rivers and a park with remnants of a fort (Fort Duquesne) from the French and Indian War.  At the apex of the park's point and the halfway mark of the Pet Walk course sits the newly-remodelled and locally-famous fountain.

Pet walk participants traverse the fountain steps.

The Pet Walk takes place immediately following the Pittsburgh Marathon's 5K race and Kid's Marathon, and shares the park with their finish line festivals.  Purina Pro Plan was there with a ton of giveaways including the same freebie treats as they had at the expo.  Spencer also got a tennis ball and frisbee from Petsmart while we collected handouts of coupons.  One of the coolest festival activities was an agility course where pets and their owners could learn some agility basics from trainers and then test out a four-obstacle course.

The weave poles proved to be Spencer's best event.

Not pictured - the other two obstacles as Spenny did not successfully complete them!  He preferred to walk around them and find treats in the grass.

One thing we will certainly remember for next year is that awards are given, not for speed like in the human races, but for the cutest pet, best costume, and pet/owner lookalikes.  Not much competition was had in the costume contest, with trophies going to dogs simply wearing their Steelers jerseys.  My wheels are already spinning to get our guy an award in this category next year.  Hot dog?  Banana?  Wookie sidekick?  One thing's for sure.  The pets and humans that have attended the first two years of the Pet Walk hope to see this event stay a signature fixture of the Pittsburgh Marathon weekend lineup for years to come.

Throwback to Corgi Party 2013 at last year's inaugural Purina Pro Plan Pet Walk.

Spenny's final thought about this year's walk.  So much fun, maximum Derp was achieved!

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