The Inquirer is presenting one profile a day of participants in the Blue Cross Broad Street Run, considered the country's most popular 10-mile run, attracting more than 40,000 people. See full coverage at www.philly.com/broadstreetrun.
What is Carrie Maria's motivation in her second Broad Street Run?
"My dog Lola, of course!" she says. "She has trained for all of my races right alongside of me.
"I often think it's unfair that she doesn't get medals, too," Carrie added. "She certainly puts in the miles with me, just not on race day."
Carrie, 30, of Bella Vista, truly is running for her dog. Carrie is the founder of Monster Milers, a group of 250 volunteers who visit animal shelters and take the bored, homeless dogs out for a run through Philadelphia while they wait for adoption.
Carrie and her group have been featured in Runners World. Other shelters around the country, she said, are using her program as a guide. (www.themonstermilers.org)
"The entire idea is that dogs often backslide while in shelters; the stress causes them to act out, which makes them harder to adopt," said Carrie. "So when we get that energy out, they're calm and relaxed and people are more likely to adopt them. Just like people feel more centered after a run, the regular exercise helps dogs get through a very confusing, and often scary, time in their life. We often run the same dogs on a daily basis until they're adopted."
With 40,000 runners on the Broad Street Run, naturally, dogs aren't allowed. But 20 members of Carrie's group will be running and thinking of their training partners.
And other volunteers, who aren't running, will take some shelter dogs to the finish. The group often holds "Adopt a Running Buddy" events at local races and along the Schuylkill River Trail. Members of Monster Milers will talk to runners about the advantages of running with dogs, particularly the safety and companionship for single women.
"It's a cool program because we're able to market the dogs specifically to runners," Carrie said. " 'You want a dog who is a running partner? Great - here's one we've been running for weeks!' "
Carrie, who owns a dog-walking business, loves running almost as much as she loves dogs. Broad Street is by far her favorite race.
"It's fast, it's joyous, it's inspirational," she said. "I get giddy when I think about it and I'm already nervous that I won't get in next year!"