Canicross Groups – How to get started

Canicross is growing in popularity in the UK so rapidly, it is getting easier to find groups of people local to yourself to join in with the fun. However if you’re in an isolated area, why not start your own group and encourage others to join you? I’ve outlined a few things to think about below which will help you to start up your own social canicross group, as at the end of the day you’ve already got your dogs in common, so it should be easy to find people who will share your love of the sport.

1. Find some suitable canicross routes – your routes need to have adequate parking, where you can load and unload dogs in safety off the road. The trails themselves need to be beginner friendly, so not too technical with boggy mud or ankle breaking ruts. Think about water stops for the dogs on the route and make sure you know the area well enough to be able to direct people back to the car park if need be.

Finding a few good routes with water for the dogs is essential

Finding a few good routes with water for the dogs is essential

2. Set up a Facebook group – this will give you the opportunity to share your runs as events and invite people who may join your group to join your runs. I’d always suggest keeping the group closed for security, although if you’re running in a group this shouldn’t be a problem.

3. Advertise your runs – you can use your Facebook group to do this and also advertise on the national canicross groups to say you’ve set up the group. You may well find there are people in your area who did not realise there were others organising runs and will want to join you. You could also put up posters in the local area and carry contact cards to hand out to people who might be interested in what you are doing if they see you out and about. I know many groups who have gained members through doing this.

Finding members for your group runs gets easier once you have set up a group on Facebook to advertise

Finding members for your group runs gets easier once you have set up a group on Facebook to advertise

4. Consider carefully insuring your runs – insurance is something which always rears it’s ugly head whenever you start to organise things for other people. If you are inviting people along to something you have organised, you risk someone who joins you or even a 3rd party making a claim against you if something unexpected happens. Thankfully I have heard of very few incidents of this nature so far, but it is worth investigating this further if you want to be covered. It is still a grey area in the UK as the sport is relatively new and growing at such a rate, underwriters are unsure what risks there are to insure.

5. Provide an incentive – Cake is a good one and used by many. If you’re starting up a canicross group, advertise there will be cake at the end and you might be surprised how many people turn up! It also helps if you have some spare kit for anyone who has never taken part before. This could be as simple as a spare bungee line, or you may have some spare harnesses and even a belt if you have been participating long enough to have collected some kit.

When you provide an incentive and spare kit for newbies to try, you might be surprised how many people will turn up for the group runs - Photo courtesy of Colin Roberts

When you provide an incentive and spare kit for newbies to try, you might be surprised how many people will turn up for the group runs – Photo courtesy of Colin Roberts

The main thing to remember is that canicross should be fun and I’ve found that by running in a group, you can socialise your dog and learn in a more relaxed atmosphere than most of the races we attend. Setting up a group is a great way to find like minded people in your area and you can even attract new people to the sport if they see you out and about having fun – so go for it!

Talk to us about group specific discount codes to be used on the K9 Trail Time Website as we are always happy to support canicross groups – emilyt@k9trailtime.com

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