What started as a typical half-marathon ended as anything but when a hound dog joined the race and snagged a seventh-place finish.
According to Runner's World, the 2-and-a-half-year-old hound dog named Ludivine slipped away from her backyard the morning of Jan. 16 and found her way to the starting line of the Trackless Train Trek Half Marathon in the sleepy town of Elkmont, Alabama.
"All I did was open the door, and she ran the race on her own accord," April Hamlin, told Runner's World.
Keith Henry, 38, who won the race, said he spotted Ludivine sniffing around while he was warming up. The hound followed him through town, to the starting line, and then ran neck and neck with Henry and another contender for several miles.
"She would cut in front of us; I thought we were going to trip over her," Henry recalled.
About eight miles in, Ludivine got distracted fell into fourth place, according to Gregg Gelmis of WeRunHuntsville, a running club in Huntsville, Alabama, to which Henry belongs.
Ludivine crossed the finish line in seventh place, with a time of 1:32:56, according to Runner's World.
"I think she probably averaged seven minutes per mile," said Henry, impressed by the hound's ability to finish the tricky 13.1-mile trek.
Ludivine's owner was also surprised by the pup's performance.
"She’s laid back and friendly, so I can’t believe she ran the whole half marathon because she’s actually really lazy," Hamlin told Runner's World.
Ludivine may very well have earned a place in Elkmont history. This year's race was the first, and the next could be named in her honor.
"Rumor has it, next year's race will be called the Hounddog Half, with a special award going to 7th place," Gelmis posted on the WeRunHuntsville website.
Henry, who ran 6-minute miles and finished in 1:19:10, said he may have taken the title, but Ludivine was the MVP.
"I won that race, but it seems like Ludivine was the real winner," Henry joked.
-- Arni Mason, NBC News