The CaniX races at Sherwood Pines were held on the 2nd and 3rd February at the fantastic venue of Sherwood Forest, situated just North of Nottingham and near the town of Mansfield. The car park for competitors and the general public was found at the top of a large open field that led down the start of the racing.
I was pleasantly surprised to see no mud again and although the tracks went off into the depths of the trees, most of the course was on either hard packed, or sandy trails which made for fast running times. The course was also relatively flat with only a few undulating sections and no hills of any real note. It was for this reason I decided to run the two boys, as with no steep descents and no slippery mud to contend with, I thought I would be safe!
The competitors all shot out of the start chute into the only technical bit through some trees, before turning left out onto another trail and further into the forest. Everyone who passed me or I passed, seemed to be enjoying the chance to really stride out in the race on dry ground, as so many courses over the autumn season have had thick mud to negotiate.
A right turn on the track, then another, took us onto a long, wide, sandy track in a shallow valley where the noise of the dogs running and racers encouraging them, was swallowed up by the woods all around. I think this was my favourite part of the course, as although it was slightly harder going on the sand, it was nice for the dogs and they really enjoyed this section.
After a slight incline and a right turn onto the hard packed trail again, we were flying (sort of!) down a hill heading back towards the start. The forest opened up to the left a little and then we turned right into the trees again for the final run into the finish, with a left turn taking you the last 20 metres and over the line.
We really enjoyed both our days racing at Sherwood Pines and although there were a lot of people around, either walking or on bikes, I personally didn’t bump into anyone and the people we saw at a distance were interested and encouraging. I clocked the course as 2.83 miles and so it was a fraction under the 5km.
In conclusion I think the Sherwood races were great for the competitive athlete and beginner alike, because the course was flat and fast allowing great times and an enjoyable run for all.