Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Ludivine's Elkmont Half Marathon Recap

I normally post my own race recaps here, but because Ludivine is a bloodhound I am going to devote this post to analysis of her 2016 Elkmont (Ala.) Half Marathon form. Ludivine finished seventh overall and first in her working-dog group with a PR of 1:32:56. She was let out to pee and wound up in the middle of this race, and through the race organizer's pics (thanks to WeRunHuntsville/G Gelmis & J Armstrong) we can now break down her impressive performance here.


Ludivine is on the right of the start pack here. She was bred to be a tracking dog at the local prison, but she also looks out for rabbits. That's what she is doing here. She starts coyly on the other side of the double yellow line and then dives in behind the guy in blue, content to let him set the pace.

Darting a bit too much at the outset, needed to conserve a bit more energy. But boundless enthusiasm is understandable to all of us who break out fast in the pack.


I did some homework on Elkmont, and it has an awesome history. The "rails to trails" area is a stretch that takes you near Civil War fighting, notably the important Battle of Sulphur Creek Trestle. There is also a cool cotton-gin history here, and Gin House Barbeque is one of the race sponsors. So in these shots, Ludivine is looking strong going past the old North Limestone Gin Corp. building. (Thanks to reader Andy for noting that it was a dry county for many years so it's not the other kind of gin made in this building.)

Good forward lean here, everything going forward like @CoachKastor says. Clearly drafting off runner in blue shirt.

In the photo below you can see Ludivine's excellent gait, powerful strides and good four-heel strikes. Note the mouth closed, breathing efficiently through snout. Peak performance! The other runners respect her space. This is a nice running pack.


Here is where a runner has to stay within herself, stay composed, block out distractions and bad thoughts. Deer, squirrels and rabbits can be spotted along the trail as well as hawks and woodpeckers. It is a lot for a bloodhound to block out, because they smell everything and they put the track in track and field. But Ludivine holds her own with mantras and total focus.

I rarely ever make a portapotty stop during a race, but I made an exception during the ferocious winds on the back side of this month's Key West Half. Here I can relate to Ludivine. She's gotta pee, and she shows good runner courtesy by not hosing down the area between these two runners. She politely moves over to the grass, does her business and then bolts back into the field.


Note the perfect tail extension. Still a solid forward lean with remarkable acceleration and drive. She can sense much love ahead from her family and friends, strong motivation to close strong. Shoulders are pulling the path to her and focused on a big finish. A bloodhound can smell it.

You can see at this point that Ludivine has a lot to teach us human runners. She runs free, fast, far and fun, emphasis on the last of those big four F's. Just let it fly like Ludivine.


Excellent awareness of event photographers, slight dip in upper body to show rigor of the journey as a keepsake for later. Stays away from fenced area, respectful of private trail owners.


Ludivine allows for momentary comfort and heaps adulation as she powers her way forward on gravelly terrain. Tongue flying everywhere at this point indicative of PR pursuit. I'm told she also did a roadkill shot block at some point on the course as well to maintain glucose storage.


Beautiful pose for all the social media sharing to follow, eyes wide open for cameras. Happy to share adventure with loved ones. Looking forward to post-race meal and then the next race signup.

Photo credit: April DeBois Hamlin

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Mike Knapp said...

Brilliant, just brilliant. Nothing more I need to say.

Suzanne Erickson said...


Mark Newman said...

Thank you Mike and Suzanne! Much respect for all the Elkmont folks (and Ludivine) from me and my English Bulldog King Bingley.

Mark Newman said...

I wish King Bingley could run that far...or even a quarter-mile!

We Run Huntsville said...

Lots of fun, looking forward to next years Hound Dog Half!

Gretta said...

Mr Newman,
Thank you for sharing the story of Ludivine and our race and especially for sharing the link for next year's registration! We had a great time putting on the race and never expected the outpouring of support from all over the world for Ludivine and our race!

Barry said...

Great article on Ludivine and our Race! Thanks for posting the link!

Andy Croley said...

The Limestone Gin is NOT a drinking establishment, although I will allow some illegal drinking probably taken place there over the last century. Limestone County was a dry county until a few years ago. Only illegal moonshine and home made wine were produced in Limestone County. The Gin is a cotton gin. They were prevalent all over the county years ago, but with big cotton transport systems, the local gin is not anymore. Only a few Gins exist today.

Mark Newman said...

Thanks, Andy! I will fix that asap and correction noted. Learning about you as I go!

April Hamlin said...

Not only have you provided knowledgeable insight to my race strategy, I finally feel like my form and substance has been recognized and celebrated...one of my favorite articles.
Love, Ludivine

Mark Newman said...

I love having a Ludivine quote right here on my blog! Thanks April - and Ludivine!