Running of the Llamas includes alpacasThis year's running of the Llamas included a new event with a close cousin of the llama. Running of the Llamas committee members said the event's first-ever alpaca race went well.
By: Gretta Stark, New Richmond News
The 16th annual Running of the Llamas included an entirely new race this year: an alpaca race.
The first-ever alpaca race at the Running of the Llamas went very well, according to Sheila Fugina, who has been in charge of coordinating the llamas, and now alpacas, taking part in the race since the first Running of the Llamas 16 years ago.
“It was very good for everybody, I think,” Fugina said. “It was interesting for people to really see the difference between llamas and alpacas.”
Llamas, Fugina said, are generally larger than alpacas, and have longer ears and faces. Fugina said there has been some interest in an alpaca race for a few years, but this was the first year the race has actually happened. She said the Running of the Llamas committee plans to include the alpaca race in next year’s Running of the Llamas as well.
Fugina said the entire event went off very well, thanks to the weather.
“It was a good day for a race, better than last year,” Fugina said. “Last year was hot. It was a little breezy, but the animals liked it much better this year.”
Fugina said it was also safer for the llamas and alpacas, as both animals can suffer from heat stress. This year, Fugina said the animals were comfortable, and their owners didn’t have to worry.
“This was a very good one,” Fugina said of the event. “There were surprises and people really enjoyed this one, I could tell.”
One of the surprises Fugina mentioned was the failure of Cutie Pie, a llama that has previously won the Running of the Llamas several times, to make it past the first heat. Cutie Pie decided he did not want to run this year, and had to be dragged down the road by his handler.
“Llamas are not predictable,” Fugina said. “They’re very much like cats. They like to do things on their own terms.”
And in this case, Fugina said, running was not in Cutie Pie’s interest. Fugina said this unpredictability is part of what makes the Running of the Llamas fun.
“It’s not as predictable as horse racing,” Fugina said. “It’s totally up for grabs.”
The winning llama this year was Oreita, owned by Mark Jacobson (Hammond), and handled by Michael Jacobson (Hammond). The second-place llama was Bailey, handled by Julia Duvall (White Bear Lake, Minn.) and owned by Tom and Paulette Hume (Rockland). The winning alpaca was Max, owned and handled by Alyssa Anderson (Osceola).