CONWAY — Runners, walkers and people who just want to show off their pets are invited to participate in the ninth annual Chase Race and Paws in downtown Conway.
The race, which will start at 8 a.m. March 8 at Simon Park, includes two parts — a two-mile state-championship race and a one-mile leashed-dog race.
A popular event at the race is the pet-costume contest.
“I call it a pet parade,” race founder Don Potter said. “That’s really put on by Friends of the Conway Animal Shelter, and they do that in its entirety.
“We have a panel of judges, which includes the police chief and circuit judge,” Potter said. “We invite all animals to participate. We’ve even had llamas and goats and what-have-you, and if [people] want to dress up [their animals], they can. We’ve always had that raccoon,” he said.
The raccoon, which is paralyzed, has participated in the event several times, Potter said. “That raccoon has placed once or twice,” he said.
Pet adoptions will be available at the event, too, according to the event’s website.
Potter and his late wife, Cheryl, who was also a runner, started the race in 2006 to honor the life of their son, 13-year-old Chase.
Chase had two traumatic brain injuries and committed suicide in 2005, Potter said. He said his son loved animals and running.
Potter, 76, still runs.
“I’ve just been blessed in a lot of different ways,” he said.
Potter said the event has raised $87,000 in its first eight years.
“Thank you, Conway,” he said. “This year, we hope to add to this total and make it $100,000.”
All proceeds from the event will be divided between Arkansas Children’s Hospital for brain-trauma research and Friends of the Conway Animal Shelter, he said.
Chris Quinn, president of the Friends group, said the money is put to good use.
“There are so many things we do with that,” she said.
“We have recently purchased a pulse-oxygen
machine for the Don Potter Surgery Center [at the Conway Animal Welfare Unit]; we bought special stainless-steel water bowls for all the kennels; we buy flea preventive ongoing; we have spent countless dollars and will continue to do so on extra medical services, from amputations to heartworm treatments,” she said.
Registration is $20 or $25 the day of the race for one race, or $30/$35 for both. The maximum family registration is $55 for a family of four, Potter said.
A $100 cash prize will be rewarded to any male or female who breaks the present course records, he said. Chip timing will be used.
“We have walkers in both events, and we don’t discourage that,” Potter said.
The top-three walkers will be recognized.
According to the website, a total of 183 awards will be presented.
“It’s continued to grow,” Potter said of the event. “We had 560 people last year, and that was our record number, and we started out, I guess, with 100.”
A complimentary 2015 entry form will be awarded to anyone who breaks an age-group record, and each person who registers will receive a technical shirt — a noncotton shirt that wicks moisture away from the skin.
Online race registration can be done at www.chaserace.info/. Entry forms are also available at The Sporty Runner, 1016 Van Ronkle St. in Conway, and at Conway Regional Health and Fitness Center, 700 Salem Road.
Senior writer Tammy Keith can be reached at (501) 327-0370 or firstname.lastname@example.org.