Sunday, 13 November 2011

Canicross

Now and again, I have seen and heard of people running with dogs. Little did I know that it is actually a sport in itself with a unique identity, canicross.

The sport of canicross is cross country running while tied to a dog. It is related to two other sports of skijoring and bikejoring. Generally, the human runner has a belt clipped round their waist which in turn the canine runner is attached to by a harness. The latter then runs on all fours in front while the former runs as normal behind. Races are even organised by bodies such as the Sled Dog Association of Scotland. Human and dog get a medal each.

I became aware recently of something called Cani Fit, essentially a training service for dogs and equipment supplier.  It is the brainchild of Rutherglen based Lindsay Cloughley who has pursued it as a business venture since September 2011. She organises a canicross trail running group at Chatelherault Park in Hamilton on Wednesdays, taking along her own dog Suko to take part. I'm a bit weary of dogs and cross them with some trepidation during training runs. However, this sounded such a novel idea, I went along to the training group recently. I also wanted to see who in their right mind ran in a country park after dark. I was equipped with a head torch as instructed.

Not being a dog owner proved no barrier as I was soon belted and harnessed to a rather energetic little female called Lunar. I didn't get a chance to set my Garmin properly since Lunar was too keen to catch her friend Suko and, being tied to her, I was left with no option but to go with the flow. I had a good bit of fun once I got going, overcoming various troubles like the harness getting tied round the dog's legs, my head torch falling over my eyes, Lunar deciding to randomly pursue a rabbit and insisting on stopping to wait for Suko (attached to Lindsay) every time we ran ahead. Running on trails was definitely easier on my legs and the head torch does help visibility a lot. A 5km loop was completed in about 24 minutes followed by a short warm down round the shadow of Chatelherault House then a photo opportunity and a chance to talk to new acquaintances, human and canine. Thank you to the guy who introduced himself as Alistair for the free can of Irn Bru. To keep the mileage up, I did another 2.5 miles, into Hamilton and back, before heading home with a couple of Cani Fit flyers to distribute.

Above: first attempt at a group photo. Suko is on the left and Lunar on the right. Lindsay is in the bright orange/red jacket.

Above: second attempt at a group photo.

Above: with Suko, one half of Cani Fit.
Should you have a dog needing more than a daily walk, you could do worse than contact Cani Fit. Details below.

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