Dog Sneaks Into Half-Marathon, Finishes 7th

Lu runs the Elmont Half Marathon — much to her owner's surprise. (Photo: Elkmont Half Marathon/Facebook)

A few weekends ago, April Hamlin of Elkmont, Alabama, let her dog out to go to the bathroom. But what, Ludivine, Hamlin's 2-year-old bloodhound did next is taking the running world by storm.

Ludivine — or Lu as everyone calls her — may have gone ahead and done her business, but she also found her way to the start line of the Elkmont Half Marathon, a charity run that benefits Elkmont High School cross-country and track and field programs.

Without a leash or an owner to spur her on, Lu took off with the starting gun and ran the entire 13.1 miles of the race, stopping along the way to chase rabbits, wade in the water, eat roadkill, sniff some cows, and even, yes, go potty. Even with her mid-race interruptions, Lu finished the race in 1 hour, 32 minutes and 56 seconds, earning her seventh place overall and first for females. "Her owner doesn't even run! That's what makes the story even better," race director Gretta Armstrong told CNN.

At the finish line, Lu received a medal, which she wore proudly. Her owner didn't even realize that Lu was off and running until she got a call from a friend about Lu's new celebrity status. "My first reaction was that I was worried she had gotten in the way of serious runners who had trained for the event," she wrote in an email to the "Today" show. In the small community, Hamlin is friends with many of the runners and volunteers who participated in the event, and she was afraid they were going to be upset with her.

But race directors, like everyone else in the community, are celebrating Lu's performance. The organizers have even decided to rename next year's race the Elkmont Hound Dog Half in honor of the seventh-place finisher.

As for Hamlin, Lu's run has inspired her to consider lacing up. "I can't run a mile in that time," she said on Facebook, "but Lu's exceptional debut into running has me inspired."