Craig Hill: Dogs win finally, Tacoma loses epically and a rare STP lag

Buddy the Shihtzu dog tagged along with owner Peggy Giovengo at the 2011 Sound To Narrows. Starting with the 2016 race, dogs can participate.
Buddy the Shihtzu dog tagged along with owner Peggy Giovengo at the 2011 Sound To Narrows. Starting with the 2016 race, dogs can participate. Staff file, 2011

Answers to important questions nobody has asked me yet.

Q: Is Sound to Narrows really going to the dogs?

A: On a June morning 174.5 dog years ago, Sam Ring, Tacoma’s fastest human, zipped through Point Defiance Park to win what would become the South Sound’s best-known running event.

At that 1973 race, and each that followed, generations of dogs have been allowed nothing more than to watch from the sideline likely perplexed why their people were running or walking without them.

This is about to change as organizers are unleashing (figuratively) the dogs for the inaugural Hound to Narrows.

On Saturday, the 44th Sound to Narrows is allowing dogs to join their masters in the 5-kilometer walking division.

Race organizer Danette Felt describes the dog event as a “soft launch” and says she’s keeping expectations low despite the success of other dog running events. “If we get 50 dogs, we’ll be really happy,” Felt said.

The entry fee is the same for the dog owners and $10 for the dogs. Proceeds go to the Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital’s pet therapy program.

Dogs and their owners will start behind the other walkers and have extra rules to follow. Dogs must be on leashes no longer than 8 feet. No retractable leashes. No dogs in heat or aggressive dogs. All dogs must have current vaccinations.

And owners are required to clean up after their pups. Felt says Tacoma’s Center for Urban Waters will send its mascot to the race to remind dog walkers of this important duty. The mascot’s name: Scoopy Doo.

Q: Are South Sound residents Washington’s best losers?

A: For the second consecutive year, Tacoma is home to weight loss royalty.

At its convention in Yakima planned for Friday, the weight-loss organization Take Off Pounds Sensibly planned to crown Tacoma’s Janet Hellman it’s 2015 queen of Washington. The honor goes to the member in the state who lost the most weight last year.

Hellman, 78, lost 101 pounds. Phil Hayes of Mead (near Spokane) lost nearly 95 pounds and was named the state’s king.

Last year, Tacoma’s Gary Koden was the state king after losing 102 pounds.

For Hellman, it was not the first time she had a triple-digit weight loss. In 1969, she joined a TOPS program at Elk Plains and lost 100 pounds.

“At that time, I decided I knew how to manage my weight, so I quit,” Hellman said in a statement released by TOPS. “Over the next 30 years, my weight would go up and down like a yo-yo, along with my attitude and overall health. I found myself spending less time doing the activities I enjoyed, like bowling and dancing, and more time sitting in my recliner.

“I was now morbidly obese. Doing basic household chores like loading the dishwasher became exhausting. I had diabetes, high blood pressure, and neuropathy. I had reached a point in my life where I had two choices, continue on the path of self-destruction or change my lifestyle.”

She joined TOPS again, this time with her daughter. She reached her goal weight in December and says she no longer has high blood pressure and her neuropathy is under control.

“I am the person I am today because of all the ongoing support from my family, TOPS family, and friends,” Hellman said. “I know I will never again drop TOPS because I need the accountability.”

Q: Is the Seattle to Portland bike ride becoming less popular?

A: A curious thing is happening with the state’s most popular bike ride this year. Registration for the Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic opened in February and by the end of the month it didn’t sell out. In fact, as of June 1, registration was still open.

The ride typically sells out its 10,000 spots in a matter of weeks. So what’s the deal?

Cascade Bicycle Club spokesman Brent Tongco has a couple of theories on why registration has lagged.

The first is the weather. “When registration opened it was raining a lot,” Tongco said. “It was one of the rainiest winters on record.”

Perhaps more likely is the idea that the growing number of other bicycle rides may be drawing people away from the STP. Tongco figures more people are trying other rides rather than focusing on doing the STP every summer.

The sport of cycling definitely is not waning in popularity. In April, Cascade launched a new event called the Emerald City Bike Ride. The 7,000-cyclist ride sold out.

“Our goal is to increase ridership around the state,” Tongco said. “And if the STP is a catalyst, that is great.”

Tongco expects the July 16-17 STP to sell out “any day now.”