On Tuesday evening as we were heading home I bumped into a woman out with her dogs and she commented something like, "Ah, canicross. I used to do it in the UK". When I got home I Googled "canicross".
As it turns out, canicross is a dog-human running discipline. It's cross-country running while hitched to a dog. The runner wears a waist belt, to which the lead is attached so that their hands are free. The dog wears a running harness (not collar) and the lead is a bungee-type line to reduce shock to both runner and dog. This is exactly the setup we have with the huskies.
The sport is well established in the UK and Europe and the first Canicross World Championships took place in Italy in 2002.
So then I start searching for local events because the dogs and I fancy a bit of competition. Web representation is shoddy.
Angel and Toscana's dad (Dino) invited me to join them at a sledding meet on Sunday morning. It's organised by the Sled Dogs Unlimited club. The season has just started and they went along or the first time last weekend.
The meets are really early in the morning to benefit from cold temperatures. Below 11C is what they prefer for running the dogs.
There's a one-kilometre and a two-kilometre track on a farm North of Diepsloot. They're dirt tracks, about a single-lane road width and cleared of rocks and nasties.
There were so many huskies there! So much excitement! And what a range of husky colours! And the sounds of doggie delight!
|I was trying to get the frosty breath from the dogs - wrong angle. Toscana in the foreground and that's their dad, Dino, to the left.|
The other main discipline is bikejoring. This is where the dogs (one or two) pull a rider on a mountain bike. We both gave it a go and the dogs absolutely loved it.
|Starting out was a bit shaky but 10m down these dogs were in full flight. That's Toscana on the left and Angel on the right. Photo by Iselle from Dog Sledding Unlimited.|
|Getting going... Thanks to Iselle for use of her bike. Toscana is the fluffy one on the left and Angel is the one getting into race mode already - on the right. Photo by Iselle.|
I did ask the one guy about canicross events. There don't seem to be any competitions. It seems like they just run on the track. Maybe I need to organise a canicross trail race? The dogs and I are itching for some competition. They're running so beautifully and their fitness is getting really good. They're absolutely loving the cooler temperatures as winter approaches.
This is helluva good fun and I really enjoy playing with my furry running companions.