About 300 participants, of both the two and four legged variety, lined up for the 2013 Donkey and Doggy Dash 5k. The 52 degree start temperature incited a ripple of excitement and chattering teeth, even amongst the more sedate donkey spectators. This year’s course route mirrored last year’s route. Athletes started and finished near BJ’s restaurant in the Sunset Valley shopping center on Brodie Lane and rolled through a flat first mile, slight incline in the second mile, and flat final mile. This year, a strong head wind greeted athletes during the middle portion of the race. However, the wind did not seem to deter either human or dog participants, and athletes of both types raced strongly.
From the beginning, Erik Stanley, sponsored by 2XU, David Fuentes, sponsored by Team Mizuno, and Peter Vanderwesthuizen, an Austin newcomer sponsored by Saucony, posed the primary threats to win the men’s division. After the first few minutes, Stanley could not match the initial speed of Fuentes and Vanderwesthuizen. He hung back to run a solid 14:51 and eventually took third place. He left Fuentes and Vanderwesthuizen to battle for first. During the first mile, Fuentes, the former course record holder and winner of the 2012 Donkey and Doggy Dash, opened a ten second gap on Vanderwesthuizen. Fuentes knew Vanderwesthuizen could produce a lot of speed, so Fuentes set a fast first mile in 4:28. Fuentes commented, “I knew I had to take it out fast if I had a chance to beat Peter, and it wasn’t enough.” Vanderwesthuizen caught Fuentes in the last mile with a strong close to win and set a new course record of 14:20. The day was not a total loss for Fuentes, though. He set a new personal record of 14:27 and felt so great that he scheduled a workout for that evening. Both Fuentes and Stanley plan to race Run for the Water on October 27th.
Vanderwesthuizen, a 28 year old South African miler, moved to Austin recently to take a job as a technical representative for Saucony. Vanderwesthuizen plans to continue competing in local 5ks, like the Donkey and Doggy Dash, but his ultimate goal is to compete in the coming track season and potentially represent South Africa in the IAAF World Championships.
The women’s division was not quite as contentious. However, another newcomer to Austin tied with the standing female course record. Kristen Finley, a former 1500 meter runner for Vanderbilt University, recently moved to Austin to join the Rogue Athletic Club and start a career in the biotechnology field. Finley won the women’s division in 16:48, 1 minute and 22 seconds faster than the second place athlete. The second and third place athletes, Natalie Picchetti and Chris Kimbrough, also set strong times and finished in 18:10 and 18:23, respectively.
For the Doggy division, Amico Williamson clinched the win, but he was not able to match his previous course record time of 16:20. However, Kelly Williamson, Amico’s owner, commented that Amico felt strong and wasn’t particularly worried about running slower this year.
Donkey Dash 5k – Male
1,Peter Van Der Westhuizen,2,14:20*
Donkey Dash 5k – Female
Doggie Dash 5k – Canine