Run for the Dogs

The Hauser Lake Icebreaker Run

By Chris Maccini

Cover photo courtesy of Hauser Lake Ice Breaker Run

Looking to get tuned up for Bloomsday while raising money for a good cause? The Hauser Lake Icebreaker Run is a 10K and 5K road race which benefits the Double J Dog Ranch, a 503c nonprofit sanctuary for dogs with special needs. This year, the event is on Saturday, April 20, two weeks before Bloomsday, making it the perfect shakedown before the region’s biggest race. It’s also an official seeding race for Bloomsday and is a USA Track and Field certified event.

According to Cristene Justus, founder and Director of the Double J Dog Ranch, The Hauser Lake Icebreaker Run originated as a Rathdrum Parks and Recreation event over 30 years ago. It’s an annual celebration of spring and the course circumnavigates the (hopefully) ice-free shores of Hauser Lake, located just across the Idaho border east of Spokane.

Justus and the Double J Dog Ranch took over the event from the Rathdrum Parks Department in 2015, and it’s now the organization’s largest fundraiser of the year. Because Double J Dog Ranch is entirely volunteer run, one hundred percent of all the race proceeds go toward benefitting the special needs dogs under their care.

Funds are used to pay for essentials like food and medical care. The Double J Dog Ranch is currently home to 12 “senior citizen” dogs who are permanent residents. They also typically have several younger dogs at any given time who are available for adoption, most of whom have limited vision, hearing, or other special medical needs.

Under Justus’s direction, the Icebreaker Run has grown in popularity, and now boasts over 700 annual participants. “Not only is it probably the most beautiful course in our area because the course goes around the lake,” Justus says. “But it’s a pretty fast course. It’s pretty flat. There are a few inclines, but people like it because it is fast.”

Courtesy of Hauser Lake Icebreaker Run

It’s not just the race that people enjoy. Justus and the rest of the volunteers who host the event make a concerted effort to encourage people to hang around after they finish the run for the festive atmosphere. “We have food trucks and a beer garden,” Justus says. “This year, we’re going to have a mimosa bar. StretchLab will be there this year doing stretching for the runners. Every year we’re kind of adding something additional to keep people around for a while.”

And, of course, the race is dog-friendly. Runners—or walkers—are welcome to bring their well-behaved dogs with them onto the course. However, dogs and their owners are required to start at the back of the pack. The race is chip-timed though, so no need to fret over your starting position.

Race details and online registration can be found at the “Hauser Lake 5k/10k Icebreaker Run” Facebook page. Same-day registration is also available beginning at 8 a.m., race starts at 10 a.m. More information about the Double J Dog Ranch is at

Author Bio:

Chris Maccini is a writer and audio producer based in Spokane. In the spring, you can often find him on the trails at Riverside State Park.

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