Though registrations are closed for Sunday's "Du Like a Dog" duathlon at Potato Creek State Park in North Liberty, the public's invited to come watch the event which begins at 8 a.m.
When Bethany Cockburn met her chocolate lab, Baden, she was not ready for a new pet, but it was love at first sight for the pair.
“I had lost my dog recently when my sister brought him (Baden) over as a puppy,” she said. "He was so adorable, like a stuffed teddy. He was tiny, but his ears were large and they made him look like a rabbit."
Baden was a shelter dog before the two met and has been one of Cockburn’s triathlon practice partners ever since.
"I do long-distance triathlons like the Ironman, and he and my other dog are my running buddies," Cockburn said. "It's running with them that makes me want to keep exercising when I'm in the offseason, but also during the season."
Despite being able to train with him for her races, she was never able to race with him until she and Pete Colan, owner of SpinZone, created the "Du like a Dog" duathlon.
"From what I have seen, racing with your dog has never been done before so we thought it would be cool to actually do something like that," Colan said.
Cockburn is the co-organizer for the person-and-pooch race.
"There are also going to be demonstrations by Paws with a Cause and vendor booths to come and check out," Cockburn said.
The event not only gives competitors a chance to run with their furry companions; it also benefits animal shelters.
"We want to help make people aware that shelter dogs are always looking for a good home," Colan said.
Vet tech coach Neika Smessaert, who is involved with several sponsors including her own dog training group, said that the dogs should have no trouble because the pets competing are made for this kind of activity.
"I imagine most of them will be in their own element," Smessaert said. "I doubt we¿ll see a lot of breeds that can't handle this. They want to be active."
Karen Tagliaferri and her golden retriever, Mira, are ready for the race.
"I do 5k races and can never bring my dog," Tagliaferri said as Mira panted heavily after their practice. "This is going to be a fun event that I get to do with my dog. Hopefully, she does really well."
All attendees and competitors must pay the Potato Creek entrance fee.
Staff writer Krystal Oblinger: