The Box End Collie Wobbler took place on Saturday 26th October at Box End Park, near Bedford. We arrived mid-afternoon on the Friday to set up and check out the course on foot before we raced it on the bike, as usual. The first thing that struck me was how lovely the venue was, there is a lake in the middle of the park where many different types of water sports were taking place and then large areas of grass around the lake provided the course for the race and the on-site camping.
On meeting the organiser and being directed around the permanently set out 5km course, marked with clearly signposted blue directional arrows, we took the opportunity for a jog around in the light. The venue is frequently used for other events and so I was surprised to find the course was in very good condition, with hardly any mud and certainly easier conditions than what we are used to contending with. That having been said, the 100% grass trails are not an easy option, as I discovered recently in Scotland, and so I knew it would be a tough ride on the bike.
The course started down the side of a hedge with the lake on your left and you peeled off right around a big open area, then around left to run alongside a river on the right and the lake back on your left across the field. A long straight along this track took most of the sting out of a fresh dog or dogs before you turned around the top of the lake and up a slight incline, which took you into the more technical section of the course. The twists and turns in this part were perfect for holding the dogs’ attention and the tracks narrowed too at this point with small trees on either side.
One short, steep hill took you to the top of the plateau and from there you continued to travel through winding paths until you emerged towards the top of the lake again and a sharp left hand turn brought you back down to where this section started. To get back to the finish however, you ran alongside the lake itself and with quite a strong headwind, this was probably the toughest bit of the race.
We completed the course on Saturday morning in an acceptable time and took 3rd place in the Womens’ Bikejor Class but I was yet again reminded of how much fitter I need to be to really get myself up the placings. Donnie did a great job but the lack of ‘on grass’ fitness caught us both out on the last section of the race and we both struggled to achieve more than an amble into the finish.
The canicrossers had an option of doing a second loop of this course and many did take this 10km option, passing over the timing mats to get accurate times for both laps through the chip timing system which was used at this event. Overall, considering this was a brand new dog sport event, I think it went very well and with a few tweaks to the organisation of start times and marshalls, I think this will become a very popular race venue for future events through Galeforce events (http://www.galeforce-events.com/) who did a great job of their first dog sport race.