Last year me and Ellie just did one of the Canicross Midlands series races as a little taster to see what it was all about - fair to say we both loved it and so I decided we would join the club for the 20/21 season and try to race the full series.
The series itself is made up of 6 weekends across 6 different venues, with a race on both the Saturday and Sunday. You gain points based on your finishing position at each race, and to qualify for the series you need to complete 8 races in the same class (we do the 5k single dog one).
This weekend was the first of the 20/21 series at Marston Lodge, and as soon as we arrived you could see just how excited Ellie was to be back racing (I think this has been exaggerated by a lack of park runs too!)
The course at Marston Lodge was mainly on gravel tracks, weaving their way through a forest and up and down some pretty steep climbs (not that we knew this before we set off!). Just before your start time you make your way over to the start line and line up (socially distanced of course atm) and this point you realise just how much the dogs love it - the sound of dogs barking and howling is mad, and Ellie of course decided to join in (sounding like some crazy deranged dinosaur...). You then get set off in 30 second intervals so you always have someone in the distance to try and track down - which is great for Ellie as she is so competitive (out on training runs she often stops pulling as I don't think she can see the point, whereas she doesn't stop pulling when we are chasing down our competitors during a race!)
The first day went really well, Ellie ran brilliantly and we finished in 8th position behind some super quick (and big) dogs, some of which race for the GB canicross team! She was enthusiastic the entire way, except up the giant hill when she actually turned around mid run as if to be saying 'are you being serious'...
The second day was on the exact same course, so we had the benefit of knowing the route, and where to push hard. As a result, I knew that the final 1km was all downhill to the finish, so if I could expend the majority of my energy getting up to the highest point on the course I could then just use gravity to get me back to the finish line (in theory anyway!). I set off with this in mind, and I was surprised at how well Ellie remembered the course - I didn't need to direct her at all which meant we had much quicker turns and she was generally more confident throughout.
Considering we both had tired legs from the previous day, my race plans must have worked as we managed to finish 50 seconds quicker on the second day! Ellie was a super star. Sadly that didn't bring us up in the finishers placings, but we still finished a solid 8th in our race.
Can't wait for the next one!
Hels (and Ellie) x
An everyday girl with a love of competition (and nut butter)