By Katie Dahlstrom
CLINTON — The Clinton Humane Society is inviting runners, walkers and their canine friends to cross the Mississippi River as part of a one-of-a-kind event next Saturday.
Mutts on the Mississippi is the only bi-state canine run/walk in the country and is poised to be the largest fundraiser the Clinton Humane Society has ever held.
Participants and their four-legged friends will begin in Fulton, Ill., and follow the designated 2-mile course across the Mississippi River into Clinton, finishing at Lyons Four Square Park in Clinton.
The race starts at 9 a.m. Sept. 21 with all proceeds to benefit the Clinton Humane Society.
"This is going to be an amazing event," Humane Society Executive Director Sandi Bartels said. "We tried really hard to make it an event for the whole community."
So far, event has attracted more than 100 participants, with more registering everyday. The number of dogs and people who can participate is practically endless, Bartels said.
In addition to the race, Mutts on the Mississippi will boast special events that start at 9 a.m. in Four Square Park, including a professional agility course demonstration, a canine costume contest, raffles, unicyclist, balloon animal artist, a variety of local dog-related merchandise, as well as area vendors. Community members who aren't participating in the run/walk are invited to join in the celebration in the park that will run until roughly 2:30 p.m.
There also will be doggie pools so the dogs can cool down after their landmark journey across the bridge.
Each participant will receive a Mutts on the Mississippi T-shirt and goodie bag stuffed with dog treats, a leash, the latest copy of Dog Fancy Magazine and many other items.
Each canine partner also will be presented with a commemorative event bandana.
The top dogs also have something to gain. The first dog over the bridge will receive a large gift bag from dog-toy manufacturer, Kong and will be declared the "spokesdog" of the Clinton Humane Society, appearing on all billboards, flyers and other materials.
Prizes also will be awarded to the first humans and their dogs who cross the finish line. The first- place runner will receive a trophy and the second- and third-place runners as well as the first three walkers to finish will receive medals.
The award ceremony will be at noon in Four Square Park.
Those attending should park at Main Avenue and Harding Street in Clinton. Participants will be taken by shuttle across the river to the starting point in Fulton.
The last shuttle will depart from Clinton at 8:30 a.m.
Planning Mutts on the Mississippi has been a whirlwind for Bartels, her staff and volunteers. While they would have liked a whole year to plan, organizers jump started the event planning two months ago after the idea first surfaced and they realized it was too good to pass up.
"We've been working non-stop," Humane Society office support assistant Kim Bielema said. "We wake up in the middle of the night with different ideas because we want this event to be a success."
They've contacted the Guinness Book of World Records for the event to be crowned as the most dogs to cross over a bridge at one time.
"Even if they don't come we can still claim the record because this has never been done before," Bartels said.
Participants will start at 13th Avenue and Third Street in Fulton, running past the windmill then up to Fourth Street before crossing the Iowa 136 bridge into Clinton. Participants will then turn down Roosevelt Street before turning toward Garfield Street. Then runners, walkers and dogs will head to Main Avenue, crossing the finish line at Four Square Park.
The Iowa 136 bridge will be closed to vehicle traffic the day of the event so the swarm of dogs and people can take part in the unique event.
It costs $25 for an individual, $30 for a couple, $50 for a family of up to four and $125 for a corporate team of up to 10 that register before the event. Prices go up $5 in each category for day of the event registration, which will start at 6:30 a.m.
Participants are encouraged to attend a welcome reception and pick up their packets on Friday, Sept. 20, from 5 to 9 p.m. at the Moose Lodge in Clinton.
Guests will enjoy hors d’oeurves, receive event information, and have the chance to meet other participants at the reception. Late registration also will take place during this time.
Race participants may register online at www.clintonhumanesociety.org.
All dogs must have proof of rabies vaccination in order to participate.