Get inspired by Armani the underdog


Armani the Yorkie, left, and his human handler, seventh grader Jaiden Eastom, in a 5K duel with local running legend Doug Sundling and his husky mix, Ginger. 

I witnessed an incredible race over the weekend – a 5K neck-and-neck duel between a Yorkshire terrier and a husky mix and their respective humans.

Believe it or not, the short-legged Yorkie pulled it out at the end, with a heroic effort to match the sprint of the girl holding his leash – a seventh-grader who’s a 5:45 miler.

The K-9 Klassic 5K wasn’t timed, and it wasn’t entirely clear where the finish line was. Jaiden Eastom said somebody told her her time was around 20 minutes, which is noteworthy in itself because that would put her in the top half of Indiana’s best high school runners.

Still, Jaiden’s feat wasn’t nearly impressive as Amani the underdog’s.

I happen to know Ginger, his opponent, who belongs to Bluffton running legend Doug Sundling, winner of dozens of area races over the years from 10Ks to marathons. If Sundling were 40 years younger – he’s a little over 60 now – this would’ve been no contest.

But while Sundling still puts in plenty of miles on both the bike and running to stay fit and keep Ginger happy, he only races for fun these days. He and Ginger had a lot of fun keeping pace with Jaiden and Armani. As you can see from the photo above, Ginger wasn’t working nearly as hard as Armani. But in the end, youth and Yorkie won out.

The amazing thing is that Jaiden and Armani haven’t run together that much. Armani usually runs with Jaiden’s grandma, who runs 3-5 miles a day but at a much slower pace. Due to excitement and inexperience – Armani’s just 18 months old – he wasn’t always entirely focused, occasionally getting tangled up in Jaiden’s legs.

“At one point he wrapped himself around a light pole,” Jaiden said afterward.  “It was bad. But he still did it!”

Needless to say, it was quite the spectacle. (To see more photos from the dog race, check out this week’s News-Sentinel column.) But Jaiden and Armani have a long way to go if they want to challenge for the world record human-dog 5K.

Earlier this year a 22-year-old Canadian who goes by the name Jessey the Elf knocked out a 15:26 running a race called the Frosty 5K in southern Ontario with his pooch, a Hungarian Viszla named Hunter Buxbaum.

If Jessey – who started out life as Ben Sayles before he legally changed his name – ever accomplishes his dream of making the Canadian Olympic triathlon team, he will get some time in the spotlight whether or not he’s running with his dog: to go along with his new identity he underwent 5 hours of surgery to have his ears sculpted into pointy elf ears.


Armani transformed into a horizontal blur and he and Jaiden pulled away at the finish.

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One Response to Get inspired by Armani the underdog

  1. bgddyjim says:

    Pointy elf ears and a dog named Armani? This post has it all! Dear God.

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