When Pam Tymchak lines up in Hopkinton, Mass., Monday to run her sixth Boston Marathon, her body will be covered with the names of dogs. And a few cats for good measure.
She even has a contingency plan since the weather forecast looks, well, miserable for the famed 26.2-mile race -- putting the names on a long-sleeved shirt and writing them on duct tape applied to the outside of her running jacket.
When Tymchak promised to run with the names of people's pets on her body through the streets of greater Boston, she meant it.
The East Amherst resident is passionate about dogs and decided to turn her sixth Boston Marathon into a fundraiser for Diamonds in the Ruff Animal Rescue.
While she runs with one of her own dogs, a golden retriever, she took up working for Dash Dog Running, a company whose employees take dogs for a run or hike. Tymchak often runs foster dogs and rescue dogs housed with Canine Kennels of Clarence through Diamonds in the Ruff.
"I've run a lot of dogs and this is such a great group," Tymchak said Thursday before leaving for Boston. "I've fallen in love with these dogs and I thought this was a way to run Boston and be able to make some money for them."
Tymchak is a Boston Marathon qualifier so her fundraising efforts are independent of the Boston Athletic Association and have been collected through a GoFundMe page. For a $25 donation, she will write the name of a donor's pet on her arm to carry them, in a way, through the marathon with her. It was a quirky idea to entice people to donate because the cause has become very dear to her.
Diamonds in the Ruff is a nonprofit organization based in Niagara County that rescues dogs, primarily from high-kill shelters, and places them in a foster home until they find a permanent adoption placement.
Tymchak not only adores the dogs rescued by Diamonds in the Ruff but has been impressed by the organization. And she loves the looks she gets from the dogs when they see her and know they're going out for a good run.
"When I go into the kennel and I'm hooking them up, some are so strong and they're so happy to get out," Tymchak said. "When I take them back and they sit down in the kennel, they look at you like, 'Thank you. I needed that.' They're so happy to get out and go.
"Running with them is so much more fun. I miss them when I'm not with them. I like the feel of the leash around my waist and I carry on a conversation with them. I love running with them."
Of course, running with them is one thing. Training to qualify for and then run Boston is another thing.
"A lot of workouts turn into fartlek runs with dogs," Tymchak said, referring to a type of interval run. "Certain dogs are wonderful for speed workouts. There are dogs I can take along with me and can hit a pace for three or four miles. Some want to stop and sniff. They're all fabulous.
"It's a bit harder to achieve time goals. I'm not sure about trying to qualify for Boston anymore. It's hard when you're running with the dogs."
But running the rescue dogs isn't something she's ready to sacrifice for another Boston Marathon.
"I have so much love for all these dogs," Tymchak said. "I get to see every day exactly where the donated money will be going and people can be sure it will be directly giving these animals a new chance and a beautiful life."
Saturday, April 14
- UB Run For Smiles 5K, 10 a.m., UB South Campus, 3435 Main St.
- Building Hope and Cultural Bridges 5K, 3 p.m., The Mahony Bar and Eatery, 199 Scott St.
- Randolph Lions Club Glow Run 5K, 8 p.m., Randolph Fire Hall, 70 Main St., Randolph
Sunday, April 15
- Canisius College Shoes For The Shelter, 5K, 10 a.m., Canisius College, 1833 Main St.
Wednesday, April 18
- Flatliner Series No. 2, 3 miles, 6:15 p.m., Chestnut Ridge Park, Newton Road Entrance
Saturday, April 21
- Health Fair 5K Run and 1-Mile Family Fun Run, 9 a.m., North Tonawanda Middle School, 1500 Vanderbilt Ave., North Tonawanda
- Tortoise and the Hare 5K, 9 a.m., MacKinnon Lodge, Chestnut Ridge Park, Orchard Park
- Run Forest Run 5K, 10 a.m., Forest Elementary School, 250 N Forest Road, Williamsville
- Envirun 5K, 10:30 a.m., Whirlpool State Park, Robert Moses Parkway
Sunday, April 22
- Laps For Limbs, one-hour run, 9 a.m., St. Francis High School track, 4129 Lake Shore Road, Athol Springs
- Purple Ribbon Warrior 5K, 10 a.m., Say Cheese Pizza Co., 1771 Love Road, Grand Island