Dog Mile World Champ Is Already Looking to Go Sub-4:00 With His Pup Next Year

Dan Wehunt and his dog won the event, but he believes they could have gone quicker: “It was me who held Odessa up.”

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Fritz Olenberger
  • Dan Wehunt and his dog Odessa won the 2019 State Street Dog Mile in Santa Barbara, California, in 4:07 on Sunday, June 2.
  • That broke the event’s previous record of 4:13, which was run by Brian Duff and his Weimaraner, Kaydom, in 2016.
  • Wehunt plans to return and compete in next year’s Dog Mile, and hopes for a sub-4:00 finish.

    Man’s best friend is now his best training buddy, too: On Sunday, June 2, Dan Wehunt and his four-year-old pup, Odessa, broke the world record for the fastest official dog mile at the Dog Mile World Championship in Santa Barbara, California.

    The man-dog team finished in 4:07. This breaks the previous record of 4:13 run by Brian Duff and his Weimaraner Kaydom at the event in 2016. (Duff and his dog finished in second this year with a 4:16 finish).

    Now, neither of those two finishes were as quick as the sub-4:00 dog mile run by two-time steeplechase Olympian Anthony Famiglietti and dog Bailey this past February. But according to the World Record Academy , Famiglietti’s run doesn’t count as the official record, since it was a time trial on his own, and not at the actual race.

    The State Street Dog Mile began in 1995, and has continued each year except for a brief hiatus from 1998-1999. Officials cap the race at 70 (human) participants. While most lace up for fun, there are always those that are there to win.

    [Smash your goals with a Runner’s World Training Plan, designed for any speed and any distance.]

    Odessa is one of those winners. As a German Shorthaired Pointer—a type of dog bred for bird hunting, which requires energy, endurance, and a strong prey drive—Odessa is ideally suited for the mile.

    “Although Odessa has never hunted, she has an innate sense to ‘work,’” Wehunt told Runner’s World. “When we go for runs, she typically heels directly at my side and will run directly past birds, deer, etc. It’s impressive.”

    Wehunt, a former DI runner for the University of Florida, logs about 40 miles a week, almost all of which include Odessa right by his side. Running with his pup, he believes, helps him find joy in training, which, at times, could become monotonous.

    Track days are pretty much the only workouts that Odessa skips.

    “Odessa has tagged along on a few tempo long runs where we average around 5:30-mile pace for about 90 minutes,” said Wehunt.

    With Odessa’s affinity for endurance runs, Wehunt sees some longer races in their future.

    “I’d probably limit Odessa’s road racing to nothing more than a 10k, so the asphalt doesn’t hurt her paws,” he said. “But a longer trail race would be a ton of fun.”

    But Wehunt and Odessa aren’t done with the State Street Dog Mile yet—they plan to return next year and improve their time.

    “I’d love to go sub-4:00,” said Wehunt. “During the race, I was surprised to hear someone call out our 1200-meter split was 3:00, so we were on pace. But it was me who held Odessa up the final 400 meters. She had no problems with the pace.”

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