This year I decided I wasn’t going to write a blog review for each race, as we have been attending too many races to keep up with it all, but I also didn’t want to let the events go unmentioned. My solution is to write a Race Review for each month, just to touch on the races and training we attend. This is the first installment and I appreciate it is a bit late but we have been very busy as you will see..
To kick things off we attended the Checkendon Training Weekend, Nr Reading, 6th & 7th September – A fantastic venue with a very technical course and this is a firm favourite of ours. Unfortunately (or not, whatever you opinion of it is) it was roasting hot pretty much all weekend and although we did some training, it was limited to short runs. I have to say though, the atmosphere at the Checkendon events is always very relaxed and social, so in fact this was a great start to our season.
Then we wound our way up the West coast, stopping off for a holiday in the Lake District before finding ourselves at the Cani-Sports Scotland Coalsnaughton Races, 13th & 14th September – We are always welcomed warmly at these races and this event was exceptional! I cannot stress enough how friendly this event was and the venue owner spent the whole weekend looking after the competitiors every need. We were served hot bacon rolls and tea after racing and provided with a BBQ on the Saturday night all cooked for us, all that was asked of us was a small contribution towards the food which was donated to charity. Anyway, back to the race itself… I unfortunately hadn’t felt very well on the Saturday and so withdrew from racing but managed to get out on the Sunday to check out the long course.
Again it was ridiculously warm and we struggled with the humidity (so much so I wasn’t even aware of what time I finished the course in) but the course itself was quite challenging with a big hill in the middle. The trails were mostly hard-packed paths and so I booted the boys up to protect their paws, which probably wasn’t necessary considering how slow we were going but I like to play it safe! I think everyone enjoyed the mix of woodland and farm tracks and I would be very tempted to make the journey again for this if it comes up in the race calender next year, because it was a particularly special venue with some of Scotland’s famous hills overlooking the farm.
CaniX Bracelands (Forest of Dean) Races, 20th & 21st September – This is a favourite venue of ours and the race is based from a lovely friendly little campsite called Bracelands, set well within the Forest of Dean. The weather was not on our side for dog running and it was so humid on the Saturday, we actually walked most of the way, which I have never done before. There was the option to drop the dogs and still race solo but I don’t run without my dogs, so I opted to just take it really steady with one of my dogs each day instead. The Sunday was slightly cooler, although still too warm for the time of year and again we just plodded around to complete rather than race. I particularly like the course here because of the huge uphill to the finish, it sounds a bit strange but it is a real challenge and you get a sense of achievement at crossing the finish line!
Checkendon Challenge, Nr Reading, 27th & 28th September – Our next event was to be our first wheeled event of the 2014/2015 season and so I was hoping for lower temperatures, sadly it was not to be. Although cool, the humidity was up above 80% both days and very dangerous for over-exerting dogs in. I made the decision to run the dogs but again we took it very steady, stopping for water and rest stops frequently over the 3 mile course. The fact the majority of this very challenging and technical course is in the woods did help but there was no way I could say we ‘raced’ this one, merely participated and used the event as training.
So to conclude September’s Race Review, we battled against the high temps and humidity, took part in some fun and friendly events but did not have any success in ‘racing’ as such because the dogs welfare is always paramount whenever we take part in anything. With very little opportunity this summer to do any serious training it will be an uphill struggle to be competitive in any way this side of Christmas but it was nice to be back out and taking part in the events again, which we miss over the summer. I have made the conscious decision this season not to push any of us in the races, so September really was a good learning experience for all of us about taking things a bit steadier and just enjoying the experience!