The Amazing Tail of Willie Bosworth
Written by Matt Dockstader
President of Destination Races
The Amazing Tail of Willie Bosworth
Popular Geyserville canine has Ferris Bueller type day
On this glorious October 27th morning Willie Bosworth woke up as usual at 6:30 am so his owners could let him out. But Willie sensed something special was happening this day, even before the sun rose above the autumn-colored vineyards in the picturesque Alexander Valley of Sonoma County. His dad is an English pointer and his mom a German short hair pointer, so Willie has keen senses, and apparently, a nose for adventure, as well.
Upon hearing the commotion coming from downtown Geyserville, Willie bolted from the yard and set out for the family store on foot. He didn’t even wait for his master, Harry Bosworth, to feed him before riding to town in the trusty pickup for the start of a typical Saturday of work and lounging around at Bosworth & Sons General Merchandise. The store is an old western classic and was first opened in 1911. Harry is a third generation owner. Willie and Harry can be found greeting customers from behind the counter on most typical Saturdays.
Instead, Willie darted his way through acres and acres of vineyards, then navigated the Russian River, all in time to arrive in downtown Geyserville well before the scheduled 7:30am start of the 5th annual Healdsburg Wine Country Half Marathon, a wine-harvest and Halloween themed running race produced by Destination Races. To his delight, Willie encountered a couple thousand people, most in costumes or crazy colored running attire. They were getting fired up to run 13.1 miles through wine country for the reward of fine wine, food, music and camaraderie at the post-race Wine & Music Festival in Healdsburg. The start line was located right in front of Bosworth & Sons and Willie was right in the middle of the action, feeling frisky. Race participants who traveled from all over the country had no idea who this fun-loving white and brown pointer belonged to, because Willie had lost his collar and tags three days prior.
As runners started to line up along Geyserville Ave and Hwy 128 for the race start, Willie’s energy and anticipation grew. He started bouncing up and down and approaching spectators and runners, as if to say, “What is all the commotion about and do you mind if I play too?” The Race Director was concerned about the prospect of having a hyperactive, collarless dog running amuck, but it was after 7:30 am and time to start the race! After an eerie rendition of the national anthem by Jimi Hendrix, the horn sounded and it was GO time. Willlie probably thought the town was hosting a huge block party, but now he was suddenly off and running the race of his life.
Willie made his way north on Geyserville Ave, then easily tackled the hill on Canyon Rd. over into Dry Creek Valley. Photos show Willie still looking strong and playful as he romped over Yoakim Bridge and onto West Dry Creek Rd. The course twists and turns past wineries and multi-colored vineyards for four scenic miles down Dry Creek Rd., truly one of the most picturesque sections of a road race anywhere in the country. Willie was thoroughly enjoying the adventure with his new pals and admirers.
After crossing Lambert Bridge he made his way down Dry Creek Road as the course now headed southwest towards Healdsburg. All the while Willie was keeping his pace with few distractions. But at mile 9 Willie started to show signs of fatigue, as evidenced by a photo with his tongue hanging halfway to the ground. Willie needed a water stop. Fortunately, Wilson Winery was just ahead complete with water stop, music and a sample of white wine for runners. One of the water station volunteers saw Willie’s tongue dragging and offered him water. Ahh, relief at last!
Now hydrated, Willie happily jogged the final 3 miles into Healdsburg. As he rounded the corner on Grove Street before City Hall, Willie was greeted by the cheers of hundred of spectators all the across the finish line. Willie had run the 13.1 miles, plus a few more if taking into consideration his jaunt from home and all his zigzagging, backtracking and pre-race antics. But Willie ran without a race bib or timing chip, much less a dog tag or collar. Willie was a bandit and therefore has no official race time.
Without a race bib or money, Willie had no wine glass ticket. He was left to roam the post-race Wine & Music Festival greeting his running colleagues, many who’d met him at the start or along the course. Willie was wondering where to go next, how to get some food and water, and probably hoping to find his family. Then came the dreaded dog cuffs. Animal control had heard rumors of a dog running through wine country and roaming around the festival without ID, or a leash. He was officially booked at 11:20 am into doggie jail. Even though he didn’t have a dog tag or a race bib, Willie had a ID chip inserted when he was young. Back in Geyserville at the store, Harry got a call from the Healdsburg Animal Shelter. Willie was in custody and ready to be picked up.
Willie cost Harry $30 to be released that afternoon. But I am sure if you ask Willie or Harry – and you can if you stop in the store – he would tell you that it was worth every penny. The following day was Geyserville’s Fall Colors event attracting hundreds more people to downtown Geyserville. But Willie was passed out in the yard behind the store, resting and reminiscing about his journey. He wanted nothing to do with the mass of people out in front of his store.
Bosworth & Sons Merchandise store now boasts a finishers medal, photos of Willie in the race, and bib #5, in honor of Willie’s fifth birthday celebrated on Halloween day. In a store rich with history, Willie’s adventure adds to the lore of this quaint, eclectic, little town set in the center of the Alexander Valley. Willie had his 15 miles of fame and loved every minute of it. Willie proved to be one of us on that magnificent day. God speed Willie, you will always be remembered for your amazing feet and tail.