Monday, 3 May 2010

Cani-X Neolithic Half Marathon.

Cani-X or Cani-Cross is an event where you run with your dog. They have events scattered all around the country and even have EuropeanWorld Championships. Most of their events are only up to 5-6km but at Neolithic they do a long course Half Marathon event. As 'both' people who read this blog know I enjoy taking Rosie pup out running and she seems to enjoy running rings around me. I've also enjoyed doing the Neolithic Marathon several times, but as I've done no long runs since Grizzly and I've already got to blag my way around the White Peak Marathon on the 22nd May it seemed the perfect time to attempt our first Cani-X race.

We planned to leave home at 7am but as always we were 30mins late so after a quick blast along the A303 we shot straight past Stonehenge and headed for the race start at Charlton Clumps (both half and full Marathons are point to point). Never 'ever' have I driven anywhere so awkward to find. Unless you have an OS map there are no markings, directions or signs anywhere. The only sign at the bottom of the road we were supposed to turn off at was one saying it was a dead end!!! We got there eventually though having driven for a mile or so against the flow of traffic from the Mountain Bike event which had started earlier (sorry folks). Luckily the tracks there were plenty wide enough for us all although squeezing past the coach that came the other way was a little tight.

Finally at the race start we'd missed most of the race brief but as it was our first event we were happy when Richard took the time to come over and say Hi, check Rosie was likely to make the distance (no problems there) and just run through the basics with us. Then after a quick toilet stop (for me) it was time to hit the Start Line. Normally these races are done on a Time Trial basis with a rolling start, but with this course being so open it was easy enough to just start everyone together. The race started and immediately a Border Collie came charging through the field minus it's owner!! Lots of shouting followed as the dogs owner tried to get it back along with a little bit of swerving to avoid it and some laughter by many of us who no doubt thought it could easily have happened to one of us. Things soon settled down though and we'd just got ourselves positioned nicely near the front when just 2 minutes into the runRosie decided that it was toilet time (why can she never go BEFORE a run). Luckily I'm well aware of her toilet habits and had poo bag in hand ready and waiting for the moment. The next stroke of luck was that the course started with an out and back section and so as I ran past Shelly who was sat in the car about to drive to the Finish at Stonehenge she gained a new 'freshly bagged' passenger (not so lucky for her I guess).

We were soon back in the flow and Rosie was dragging me back up towards the front of the pack, so much so that even with the 'stop' we completed the first mile in 6:20.
The course is classed as off-road, but it's mostly on dusty tank tracks which although filled with potholes (plenty of puddles for the pup to drink out of) is pretty good under foot so you can still haul along a bit. As this is a Bank Holiday weekend the recent hot spell had taken a break just in time to leave the day cool enough for the dogs to not worry too much. There were drink stations every couple of miles and they'd all got plenty of water for the dogs to drink and cool off with. Rosie of course would rather drink out of mucky puddles so ignored every single fresh water opportunity. There was also a marshall bombing about on a quad bike checking that none of the dogs were being pushed too hard (fat chance) or suffering in any way that would make it dancgerous to continue, we can make our own minds up but dogs are loyal enough to run through all sorts of pain to keep with their owners.

Back onto the race then and we made out way back up to the front and ran alongside David Maisey and his two dog combo for the first 3.5miles. During the time we chatted and I found out that David had run London Marathon in 2:55 just 7 days ago and his wife is training for IMUK in Bolton (even dog running you find Triathletes :-D ). On one of the climbs David told me to push on ahead, we'd been averaging 6min/mile pace and with a Marathon fresh in his legs it must have been pretty tiring. From then on it was just me & the pup against the course and I just had to wonder whether any of my pre race worries would come back to smack us around the head.

Could Rosie run 13 miles on the lead? Had I got the training in my legs to keep this pace? Which one of us would explode first? Would we make Cani-X fools of ourselves by bombing off the front and then getting passed by half the field towards the end?
Thankfully there were positive answers to all of my worries. I knew the distance would be no problem for Rosie but even having to stay on the lead and run at a constant pace which she's so unaccustomed to she was strong from start to finish. There were only two real barriers to our progress (other than drink stops) one was a trail near the end which Rosie seemed uncomfortable on, it was particularly rough under foot and her paws would have been tired and tender by then. The other was 10.5miles in when Rosie decided it was time for another toilet stop. I'd managed to hide her poo bags in an unreachable pocket on my camelback (rules said we had to carry a litre+ of water) and had to remove it, dig them out, clear up after her, put the camelback back on etc etc etc. That mile ended up being our slowest by almost 90secs, a lesson to be learnt I think!!

So all in all the run was a great success, we finished in 1:23:27 which I think is the quickest man & mutt time for the race (although the course was altered) and Rosie was glad to recieve her bag of treats and her medal. After the race we chilled (literally, it was freezing cold - brrrr) and spoke to a few of the other caniX runners and organisers. I did tell them I was unlikely to do any more events because of the short distances, my Ironman training and the travelling involved ............... but, the next event is only in Exeter. If Shelly fancies another trip out to watch her pup race it might be fun, I could bike out there to get some miles in. I've seen some of the previous results and on a shorter course we'd get absolutely hammered because '''I''' simply can't run fast enough. We'll see, the closing date isn't for another week. Who knows???


Stuart said...

Congrats to you and Rosie! What fun.

Carol said...

Hi There
I am that crazy "owner" with the boisterous border collie, Badger, who escaped from me at the start!
I borrowed Badger from my friend "Rona the Owner" as my Mac is getting a bit old for half marathons. Once we got reconnected had a great run in 1:48, not too bad for a crazy 2 year old attached to a woman 50 years older than him! It was actually quite a thrill to run with such an athletic dog.
I'm intrigued on your Hawaii Ironman entry, only because my husband, Kes, has been to Kona 9 times. In fact he has done 31 Ironman events including the 9 in Kona.
I'm sure Kes would be glad to offer any help or advice should you need any before October?
Bet wishes,
Carol Aleknavicius