The Wiener 500 happens on the riverfront every September and draws as many as 4,000 spectators. If you want to be one of them, arrive early to secure a decent view—the competitors are just nine inches tall.
So what exactly does the race entail? In short, dozens of dachshunds scrambling toward their owners at a finish line 20 yards away. The race has been a staple of DC’s Oktoberfest since 2012, when Jennifer Currie, then owner of the entertainment magazine On Tap, came up with the idea: “We thought, ‘Dachshunds! Dachshunds for Oktoberfest—what could be more fun?’ ” Her instincts were right. While Currie hoped to get 40 dogs registered to compete in the inaugural Wiener 500, it drew 70 competitors. Proceeds from the $30 registration fee benefit the Humane Rescue Alliance.
The 2019 Wiener 500 takes place September 21 starting at 1 pm. It has traditionally been run at Yards Park, but this year it moves to the Wharf’s District Pier. With more than 100 dachshunds expected to race, the main event will be broken into heats of eight, with the winners competing in a final showdown for the grand prize of $100. There will be other festivities, too, including a dog costume contest and a parade of adoptable animals.
It’s okay if your dog doesn’t actually know how to race. Last year, Kyle Gamber, who works in real estate, was convinced he had the perfect strategy for his six-month-old dachshund, Jack. Before the race, Gamber avoided Jack, thinking the dog would be extra anxious to reach him when he saw his owner at the finish line. Jack had his own fan section—a group of Gamber’s friends wore T-shirts emblazoned with jack flash—but not even that was enough to get the little guy going. “He just sat on the starting line,” Gamber says. “This year is the year, though. I know it.”
This article appears in the September 2019 issue of Washingtonian.