My clients will realise that every now and then I take the odd few days off for my partner to go and compete with our dogs. I am aware for most people that canicross is a strange word with little meaning to it. So as it’s January and it is that time of year when people want to go and get out, get fit and tend to lack actual motivation, I thought I would introduce you to a sport that is very close to our hearts.
So what is Canicross?
Canicross is running, whilst attached to your dog. Your dog runs in a harness that is designed to allow them to pull you along. They can’t just wear any type of harness for this as some harnesses have a strap that goes around their chest which restricts the movement of their front legs. The harnesses can range in price but what is important is to know that harnesses are a bit like running shoes, though they are the right size they might not be right for you! This means that some harnesses should in theory fit but when your dog runs in them they don’t appear to sit straight, or they rub. It’s a bit of a minefield but I will tell you how to figure your way through that later!
The dogs are attached to you via a bungee line, which is then attached to a canicross belt. There are a few different types of these at different prices and they are very person specific, it is down to what you find comfortable.
This is an easy one, you just go out and get on with it! There are canicross clubs all over the country this website is really useful to try and find your closest club! Just get in touch with them and they will point you in the right direction!
Our local club is Canicross Midlands, they meet all over the midlands and have grown into one of the largest clubs in the country. Due to the size the club now has ‘sub-groups’ on Facebook so people within local areas can find each other more easily. Our local club sub-group is Canicross Midlands Lincs and they meet usually twice a month near Wragby for training runs. If you want to get involved then join the Facebook group and chat to Tracy, who is in charge of the runs. She is a lovely lady with a kit bag to help you find the right harness for your dog. This is what is so useful about getting in touch with a local club, the majority have kit for you to try. This means you can try different running belts and different harnesses for you and your dog before spending a penny!
Nor can I! In fact both my partner and I hate running, yet my partner has got into this so much that he is now running 5k in under 18 minutes! He has taken 10 minutes off his 5k time when running with Dill. It has made a huge difference and he is a lot fitter then he was!
It doesn’t matter how fit you are! You can do this sport. It also doesn’t matter how big or small your dog is! This is a sport that anyone can take part in. We recommend that your dog is at least a year old before running in harness so that they can fully develop their joints but once old enough you will love it!
First off you don’t have to race! Racing is something that some people enjoy and some people don’t. Your dog does not have to be kennel club registered to take part in any of the canicross events currently available.
Races are put on by a variety of different clubs and groups, some are aimed at the monosports – so canicross, bikejor and scooter. Some are aimed more at the traditional sleddog sports, on rigs with anywhere up to 8 dogs pulling them. We have never been to a race where we haven’t felt welcomed, regardless of who is putting them on. My partner and Dill have moved into bikejoring once Dill was old enough (they have to be 18 months at least for wheels) and that is the sport they now enjoy the most. However they started off canicrossing and still do, they can be found at Parkrun’s the weekends we are not away racing.
I know I am biased about this sport but it is one for everyone. Come along to some training runs, meet like minded people and did I mention that us canicross people really like cake!
If you want more information on the sports then check out K9 Trail Time, they have an amazing blog with lots of information about the sports, harnesses and other equipment and they also sell it all! They even do kits for beginners to make it cheaper starting out. They also run virtual runs, so you pay £10 to go out run whatever distance you like (you decide the distance when ordering) and at the end of the month you are sent out a medal for your achievement! All the money goes to different charities and they raised an amazing amount last year!
It is so easy to go and get out with your dog, then you can motivate each other to get through January and keep that goal of getting fit!