The Brokerswood Blast charity canicross race took place over the weekend of the 30th November and 1st December, with the Saturday being devoted to the Canicross race and Sunday for the Team Challenge, which I unfortunately could not stay around for but K9 Trail Time sponsored some of the prizes.
The event was set in the grounds of Brokerswood Country Park in Wiltshire, a stones throw from Longleat Safari Park and not too far for us to travel to. We arrived in the late afternoon to set up in the caravan park, which is located just next to the woods and all enclosed on the private land. The facilities on site are fantastic with a very warm, clean toilet and shower block and even a little cafe!
Saturday morning brought the start of the racing and all competitors were divided into two waves with an hour between them, allowing enough time for one complete wave to finish before the second went out. I was in the second wave and we were instructed at the briefing to choose a starting position based on our knowledge of our 5km times and what our dogs’ requirements were (i.e nervous dogs or beginners could start at the back).
The slightly uphill start chute was wide and allowed a bit of time for the dogs to burn off some energy before looping around and bringing you up towards the start, passed the country parks’ lake, and then on around through the woods. The majority of the trail was undulating but not hilly and there were sections of twisty single track which the dogs loved. There were also two railway crossings to negotiate but only tracks for the little tourist train which had been stored away for the winter thankfully!
The course went to the edge of the woods, where a strategically placed marshal directed you either back on another loop towards the start and round the lake again, or back down the finish chute which was also the start. Although the course wasn’t hilly, I still found it quite challenging with lots of tree roots, mud and natural obstacles to keep both myself and the dogs occupied with.
I finished the 5km course in about 32 minutes which is probably all I could expect at the moment but still felt like I could have done better, so I was a bit disappointed with myself. When I’m competing I sometimes forget that my dogs don’t care where we get placed, they just enjoy the race and that’s all that matters to them. I actually still don’t know where I was placed in the two dog female category but many of my friends were placed and again the rest of the NATB Dog Sports team did very well, taking a number of places at the prize giving.
I am sad that I missed the Team Challenge on the Sunday because there was great feedback from it, with people posting photos of themselves in boats on the lake, climbing trees and even taking part in archery. It will be one to watch for next year, as I believe the event will take place again in 2014 (keep an eye on the website for more details: http://www.cck9.moonfruit.com/) The event was very well organised with every detail catered for, including a childrens’ race which took part after the main racing, so no one was left out.
I’d highly recommend this event to both beginner canicrossers and experienced canicrossers alike, (we even had European and World Champion canicrossers running in the event) everyone who attended remarked on the fun and friendly atmosphere. The event even managed to raise over £1000 for the charity ‘Cyclists Fighting Cancer’ (http://www.cyclistsfc.org.uk/) through the race entries, a raffle and proceeds of photos taken by Vicky Stipetic of Houndscape Photography (https://www.facebook.com/houndscapephotography). A fantastic weekend for a great cause.