Runner and service dog in training coming from New Jersey for the 5K

Most people planning to run in the Taste of Annandale 5K Race on Saturday morning are from Annandale or surrounding areas.

Christina Olson and Daisy are coming from Summit, N.J., for the race.

For Olson , the Taste of Annandale 5K is an opportunity to add one more state to her goal of running a race in all 50 states. She has already crossed 20 states off her list – mostly in the South and East Coast – but hasn’t done a race in Virginia yet.

Daisy is the German Shepherd Olson is training to be a seeing-eye dog. That training includes acclimating her to be comfortable around lots of people, so a 5K is a good opportunity to do that.

The Olson family has raised Daisy since she was seven weeks old. Olson is the director of a preschool, and Daisy frequently comes to work with her.

In November, Daisy will be sent to the Seeing Eye in Morristown, N.J., the oldest seeing-eye dog training facility in the country where she will learn how to guide visually impaired people.

It’s a very intensive and selective program, and not all dogs make it. The first puppy the Olsons took on for future training as a seeing-eye dog was rejected, because she was too easily distracted by other dogs. That dog, Sarah, is now the family’s pet.

Olson thinks Daisy will be accepted. “Daisy loves people. She is very mellow.” She’s been on the train and subway and had a good experience at the U.S. Open in New York City with thousands of people.

Olson decided to run a race in every state, because she loves running and, “when I turned 50, I wanted to have something to look forward to.”

She’s run races in New York, New Hampshire, Delaware, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and other states.

She picked Virginia as her next stop because it’s fairly close to her home in New Jersey and she saw the Taste of Annandale 5K listed on the Running in the USA website.

Register for the race here. After the race, stick around for the Taste of Annandale, a community festival with food, live entertainment, children’s activities, beer garden, pet show, and much more.

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