For access to all of our training, gear, and race coverage, plus exclusive training plans, FinisherPix photos, event discounts, and GPS apps, sign up for Outside+.
When age-grouper Tiago Ferranti Belloube set out for a run on the morning of March 27, nothing seemed amiss. The sun was rising over Leme, a city in the countryside of São Paulo, Brazil, and Belloube was focused on hitting his splits for his interval workout as part of his preparation for an upcoming Ironman.
But everything came to a halt when Belloube passed a cane field and came face-to-face with a pack of seven large dogs. It’s hard for Belloube to say what exactly came next, other than everything happened so quickly and that it was “extremely terrifying.” But what is known is that Belloube sustained more than 50 bites, the dogs continuing their unrelenting attack while multiple cars passed by on their morning commute. One driver stopped, but was scared off by the viciousness of the attack. It wasn’t until another person assisted that the seven dogs finally released their jaws from Belloube.
The driver, who has not been identified, picked up Belloube’s limp body from the pavement and placed him in the bed of his pickup truck to rush him to the hospital. Despite extensive blood loss, multiple injuries, and a high risk of infection, Belloube survived. But the aftermath of the attack left the 9-hour Ironman finisher and GP Extreme champion with lasting damage.
“There are over 50 bites that needed 60 stitches,” Belloube starts his long list of injuries. “The sensory nerves in my right arm are compromised, and I still don’t know if it will be fully recovered. Both calves have muscle damage, and my right foot is also damaged as my Achilles heel was heavily bitten. It is already a month after the episode, and I still can’t walk.”
In April, Belloube underwent a surgery to remove his heel and some of his skin; more procedures are expected due to infections caused by the bites.
“On the psychological side, only time will tell,” Belloube said. “But I’m still afraid of dogs.”
Still, Belloube is in high spirits about his recovery. He credits his Christian faith, the support of his wife, Vivian Ramos, and a strong desire to return to racing—whatever form that may take.
“I’m an amateur triathlete who engages seriously in this sport,” Belloube said. “Before, I was aiming for the podium, and for that I have to be 100%. In this scenario, it’s rough to say if I can do that, or if I will take part in a sprint triathlon or an Ironman competition. We need to see how my recovery goes.”
But no matter what, he plans to return. The motivation to be on the race course once again is what drives him to follow his rehabilitation and recovery protocol. The memories he has created through triathlon—making new friends, meeting his wife, and topping the podium at races around Brazil—keep him happy when things feel overwhelming. He is adamant that he will do it again.
Currently, Belloube is pursuing charges against the owner of the seven dogs. In time, he would also like to meet and thank the man who rescued him from the attack. But today, he is focused on recovery and sharing his experience so others to learn what to do when encountering aggressive dogs on a run.
“I’m trying to see the bright side of everything,” Belloube said. “I want to learn something from the experience and help others.”