Humans racing on Vail Mountain with their dogs, what could go wrong? |

Humans racing on Vail Mountain with their dogs, what could go wrong?

Rocky Dog Trail Run kicks off running races of GoPro Mountain Games

The GoPro Mountain Games, annually scheduled for June, are now scheduled to take place in August. Depending on updates from governments and health officials, organizers will make a final decision by June 1 on whether or not to hold the event in August.
Chris Dillmann |

The running races at the GoPro Mountain Games kicked off Thursday with an exciting Rocky Dog Trail Run featuring humans and their canines running 5K across Vail Mountain.

The men’s field featured multiple lead changes, potty breaks and a loose collar. Anthony Kunkel and his dog Winston ultimately pulled off the win, and Brooke Kish won the women’s field with her dog Charlie.

“I think we did good. The women’s winner was classic canine-cross style — the dog is just hauling and she’s getting yanked around which is awesome. It’s beautiful and takes training, but I was so happy that we could pull off the win with our style of running — he’s a 27-pound dog,” Kunkel said, adding the duo are two for two in this type of race, previously winning in Durango.

Anthony Kunkel won the men’s division of the Rocky Dog Trail Run on Thursday at the GoPro Mountain Games with his dog Winston.
Ross Leonhart |

Kish is also accustomed to winning with Charlie.

“I entered into a non-dog race once and won it,” she said. “We won’t do that again because I felt guilty because we’re dog-powered.”

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Kish also has some tips for first-time racers.

“The Non-Stop dog harness and the belt helps a ton,” she said.

Josiah Middaugh — an Xterra national champion, two-time USA winter triathlon champion and all-around stud — finished third in the men’s category. He was running with a friend’s dog, Remi, for the second time.

“She’s a good running dog but ran out of gas after about 2 miles,” he said. “She was more interested in the rivers than the running the last mile there. I had a pretty good lead and her collar came off three times in the last mile, she jumped in the river and I had to wrestle her out of the creek.”

Both Kunkel and Kish said their dogs had zero potty breaks along the way. With runners responsible for picking up after their dogs, this saves precious time.

“He got like four before he started,” Kunkel said. “He’s just like me, he gets nervous before and then he’s ready.”

“You never know,” Kish said. “One race he went poop. The second race he went pee.”

Rest of the field

Also running the race Thursday was Dave Graham, in town from Queensland, Australia, with his dog Ned, competing in the DockDogs, Climbing Wall and Rocky Dog Trail Run this weekend.

“I’m just running this because I’ve got fake legs because I used to do search and rescue and broke most of my body,” Graham said. “I told myself if I ever come to Vail I’m going to do the run with the dog.”

Graham and Ned are traveling the country competing in dog events.

“He’s still having trouble with the accents getting along with the other dogs,” Graham said joking.

Dave Graham, of Australia, and his dog, Ned bond before the Rocky Dog Trail Run during the GoPro Mountain Games Thursday in Vail. Graham and Ned are competing in multiple events throughout the weekend.
Chris Dillmann |

Stacy Lile also participated with her dog Boeing. She’s in town with her family and company Junk, the official headband of the GoPro Mountain Games.

Assistant editor Ross Leonhart can be reached at 970-748-2984 and Follow him on Instagram at colorado_livin_on_the_hill.

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