Leslie Wolcott needed fresh legs to finish the 5K Resolution Run in Santa Rosa Wednesday morning.
Not her legs, mind you.
Wolcott, who lives along the route that starts at Montgomery High School on Hahman Drive and wraps around the surrounding Montgomery Village neighborhood, made a pit stop at her house after her 8-year-old cattle dog Tio got tuckered out by her pace. She leashed up 4-year-old Zoe, another cattle dog, and raced on to finish the 3.1-mile course in 29:34.
"I'm good with that," she said, smiling.
Finish times are not typically the focus of the annual run hosted by The Empire Runners Club that has grown in popularity each year since it was launched more than two decades ago. This year a record number 351 runners participated.
Race director Val Sell said a two-tiered start allows elite runners to take off about 10 minutes before those "resolites" who, while using the race to kickstart new, healthy habits for 2014, might still prefer a more leisurely pace.
"The idea is, we would rather have you out here walking than not here at all," she said.
Dogs are many, strollers are, too.
That's not to say there were no speedsters toe-ing the line Wednesday morning.
The Bowen sisters provided a one-three punch in the women's division. National champion Rylee Bowen, 14, of Santa Rosa took first place with a record-setting time of 17:59. Her sister, Kate Bowen, 12, finished third in 18:44. Taylor Falk, 20, finished second in 18:35.
Bowen bested the two-year-old course record by 19 seconds. The Rincon Valley Middle School eighth grader was all relaxed smiles at the finish.
"Most of the time, I'm thinking about completely random things," she said of her record-setting pace. "I thought I saw a rainbow."
Santa Rosa High School alum and Sacramento State University runner Reesey Byers, 21, won the men's race -#8212; again. Wednesday's victory was Byers' fourth in a row, despite getting over a nasty illness.
Byers, who is training for the USA Track - Field Championships in June, won the race in 16:01, well off of his record-breaking time of 15:10 last year.
"I'm actually pretty pleased considering my lack of training," he said, clutching his prize of a 4-pound bin of red licorice.
Cristian Nazarek finished second in 16:12 and Matt Salazar was third in 16:20.
Paige Johnson, 6, has for years been "racing" while riding in a stroller pushed by her dad, runner Charlie Johnson. On Wednesday, she completed the race on her own for the first time.
After crossing the line to the cheers of more than 10 family members who ran the race together, Paige smiled and indicated that next year she might opt for the stroller again.
(Staff Writer Kerry Benefield writes an education blog at extracredit.blogs.pressdemocrat.com. She can be reached at 526-8671, kerry.benefield@press democrat.com or on Twitter @benefield.)