The Cannock Chase CaniX races were held the weekend before Christmas over the 22nd – 24th December at Cannock Chase, which is the smallest area of outstanding natural beauty in the UK. The weather was predicted to be wet and miserable for most of the weekend and it didn’t fail to deliver!
The course itself was being run in reverse of the usual route, which meant the start chute was a fairly short straight into a sharp left hand turn. Another short straight then a sharp right hand turn took you out into the open and alongside a couple of fields before dropping down with a very sharp right hand turn into the wooded area of the course. The downhill section here was muddy and relatively steep, so on the bike or scooter (as we were on) you had to be careful you didn’t lose the back end sliding around as you made your way down.
The middle section of the 5km was up and down some sizeable hills, in and out of the woodland and across the top of a moorland area of the chase. I had a two dog team on the scooter and it was a tough climb up a couple of the hills, with me spending a lot of time off the scooter and running alongside it to take the strain off the dogs.
After the last long sloping climb you turned left into the wood and twisted through some muddy tracks to bring you back out onto the home straight, which was about half a kilometre and all slightly uphill. Coming into the finish area we couldn’t muster up enough energy on any day to come tearing over the line but I saw a few people manage it on foot.
We managed Saturdays’ run with no mishaps but on Sunday a break in the weather meant an abundance of local dog walkers, most of whom seemed oblivious to the danger of letting their off lead dogs come charging in to say hello to my on lead dogs who were clearly working! I ended up having to slam the scooter brakes on so hard when one woman let her dog run into mine, that the back of the scooter flipped up and into me – sending me flying face first into the floor. Needless to say I wasn’t thrilled about this but picked myself up and finished limping over the line.
Mondays’ race was much more exciting as we all got dressed up with a Christmas theme to earn an extra few championship points and completed a ‘dogstacle’ course in the finish chute to show that we still had enough control and energy to complete a challenge at the end of 3 days racing. It made for great entertainment to see fairies, christmas trees and lots and lots of santas crossing the line, drenched from the continuous downpour of rain.
I think one thing that canicross racing has taught me is that no matter what the weather, with the right company and attitude, any run can be fun and we certainly thoroughly enjoyed our 3 days at Cannock.