Chris Cowden worked in the oilfields near his hometown of Guthrie and usually carried around a big sack of dog food in his truck. Sometimes when he was out in the country for either work or recreation, he would come across a stray animal. He would give the animal a good meal before taking it back into town to find it a home.
One afternoon, Cowden went for a ride on his motorcycle and was involved in a fatal crash. In the aftermath, his siblings, Matt, Teri and Suzanne, turned their grief toward something productive. They knew their brother loved animals and running, so they established an annual race event in his honor.
Now in its eighth year, The See Spot Run is a 5K/10K race and kids fun run in downtown Guthrie benefiting Free to Live, one of the states largest no-kill animal sanctuaries.
When I lost Chris, I didnt just lose my brother, Matt said. I also lost my friend. This event is a way of keeping his memory alive and also a way to help the animals he loved so much.
Teri told Oklahoma Gazette that her brother Chris had a great sense of humor and a compassionate heart.
Chris loved his family and took care of us at all times, she said. He loved life and lived it well. He was a dedicated father and family man and a friend to all he met. This event gives us an opportunity to celebrate Chris in a way that involves something he loved to do and also benefit Free to Live.
The event has grown through the years, attracting around 500 runners from across Oklahoma and the United States annually. More than $45,000 has been raised, with 100 percent of the proceeds benefiting Free to Live.
One of my favorite memories of Chris was when we would go on our runs together, Suzanne said. He lived close by me, and we would run to a meeting point and jog side by side up the challenging hills in Guthrie. The See Spot Run route is actually the same course we would run together.
Last year, the race switched from a morning run to an evening event, and organizers say the turnout was much better, with an even larger crowd expected this year.
This years event is June 11, with the youth fun run at 6:15 p.m. at the corner of Harrison Avenue and Second Street in Guthrie. Both the 5K and 10K race begin at 7 p.m. Runners and walkers are encouraged to bring four-legged friends but should remember Guthries leash law is strictly enforced. Free to Live also will be on hand with some of its rescue dogs.
Those who may not necessarily want to work up a sweat can still come out and enjoy the festivities with food, beer and music filling the downtown streets.
Chris was a dedicated father, and he and his daughter Mallory were incredibly close, Teri said. He actually got into running when she took up the sport in high school. Now, Mallory and her husband Trey are very involved with the planning and execution of the race. One of Chris favorite things to do was spend time with his family and friends, and he would have loved to have run this race. And that is why we started our event in the first place.
Print headline: Running free, A Guthrie race honors Chris Cowdens memory and raises money for an animal sanctuary.