Georgie Lambert is the Co-Area Manager for Alton Sports and a very keen canicrosser… if you don’t know much about canicross, then you better read on!
Tell us a little bit about canicross for the uninitiated… how did you get into it, and how long have you been doing it?
Benson (my dog) and I got into Canicross about 2 years ago when we joined a local Club (North Down Canicrossers) with the help of Dogfit we learnt all the right commands to make sure Benson was always kept safe & we were doing it right, we were hooked! We kinda stumbled across the sport, I needed to go running, we had just re-homed Ben and his recall was minimal & he needed a job to do, canicross was perfect!
As a sport, is its popularity increasing?
Yes, this year we have just started competing on the Canicross stages which are held all round the country. The people I met travel to races almost every weekend, and then there’s the training in the middle and the seasons long too, it runs from September – May. With parkrun allowing canicross runners to run, people are finding the sport and the convenience of exercising and taking the dog out at the same time very accessible. Other running off road events also are allowing dogs to join in in mass events which is amazing and should be encouraged! It gets people into running, keeps the dogs fit and builds bonds. Recently a canicross runner, Ben Robinson and his dog Blake (read this) ran 12.24 for 5K at a parkrun and this obviously got a lot of attention and helped to get the sport noticed.
Tell us about your event at the weekend?
This weekend Ben and I went to Pembrey in South Wales, the location was beautiful with woodland and long sandy beaches on our door step. You camp over for the weekend as you compete the 5K course both days to show the dogs (and your) endurance. Everyone is very sociable with all the dogs enjoying life outside for the weekend. Benson was awesome and pulled me round to 3rd place in the female senior category, the course was mega hilly with a mix of sand dunes, this was our hardest comp yet. We also met a local runner from Alton! All the way in Pembrey! Naomi Shaylor is a local club runner at Alton Runners she has been canicrossing for 10years now, such a small world! Congratulations on your 2nd place, Naomi.
How important is good cani-x kit? Do the dogs need to be fitted for it?
Harnesses for dogs is just like footwear for us, you need to be fitted. Some brands fit dogs better than others. For canicross, a harness for both human and dog is necessary as the dog is pulling you in a sled-dog fashion. A bungee is then between you and your faithful partner to stop any jarring action for both of you.
Can anyone with a dog just give it a go? Any advice for people looking to try it out?
Yes completely! If your dog enjoys going out and about that is! Canicross allows you to explore new locations as your attached to your dog, in a non-annoying lead and collar style, you find yourself exploring new locations, feeling confident your dog is safely with you and they help on the uphills!
When Ben and I got into Canicross we paid for a 1:1 session with Dogfit to make sure I was doing it right and Ben liked it! It’s a social game for both human and dog to meet up with like minded people and their dogs so the dogs run in a pack, they seem to enjoy this more. I recommend a 1:1 session first – it’s piece of mind for £20.
Do you have any other events lined up?
Yes, we plan to take part in the big boy BSSF this year (British Sleddog Sport Federation) champs which are held over 3 events – 1 in Wales, 1 in England, 1 in Scotland. You get points at each event and then get ranked out of the UK, we still only really do this because Ben enjoys running but the runner in me needs to compete! We enjoy going to new locations and camping. We also hope to do some more local parkruns as a lead up.
Just like normal running, is it important to increase the mileage steadily with the dogs?
Yes, dogs will generally always be fit to run however with Canicross they have to run at your pace and the key is not to stop and sniff/wee every 2 mins and this fitness will improve the more you both do it. Build up slowly to keep your best friend fit and healthy but also so they enjoy it.
Will we see you running a 12 minute parkrun with Benson any time soon?
Ha, Benson probably could but my goal is 18mins at the moment. No that is mental, so fast I cant even think about it. Ben Robinson and Blake who ran the 12.24min Parkrun are a complete machine.