After completing the Cotswold Way (officially 102.5 miles but we made it about 106) over 5 days with the dogs, canicrossing the trails successfully, I thought I would do a last blog to sum up what we learned from the experience, in case anyone else is considering a long distance trail with their dogs.
The first thing I would say is that I don’t think I would have wanted to do this without a support team. There were moments when I knew that if I had needed someone to collect one of the dogs, a van was never very far away and that was reassuring with some of the terrain we were covering.
The fact it was much warmer than I had anticipated it being, had meant I was concerned about canicrossing in the heat. I am always very cautious about running dogs in higher temperatures and especially higher humidity. In the past I have shared this article:
which I feel is a great reference for anyone who is unsure of what to look for in overheating in dogs. We kept a close eye on the dogs at every stage and had no problems at all over the 5 days.
The next thing I think we got spot on was the kit – for the dogs, we were sponsored for this challenge by Arctic Wolf who provided us with these fantastic Multi-Sport Harnesses for the dogs:
The harnesses are a great mix between a short and long style harness and worked really well over the 100 odd miles, providing a comfortable and practical option for the dogs to run in when they were pulling and when we needed them to walk with us.
The lines we used were these:
which were amazing, lightweight but tough, I even got mine caught on barbed wire as Donnie made his way through a gate. The sharp barb actually went right through the webbing but it didn’t fray and the strength wasn’t compromised.
The belts were the other important part of our kit and we were lucky enough to have been given these Ergo belts:
These belts are well padded, sit low on the hips and have a sliding clip on the front of the belt to attach your line to. The Ergo belts are also very adjustable so fit a wide range of sizes.
With regard to kit for ourselves we were sponsored by Arctic Wolf to have technical t-shirts made up by Jess at
and these lightweight tops saw us through the 5 days. Trainers, back packs, socks, leggings and shorts were all selected by ourselves, months in advance to trial and test them in plenty of time to make sure we suffered no rubs or other problems with our clothing.
A big consideration for the challenge was nutrition and again for the dogs we were sponsored by Meat Love (also known as Fleischeslust), who provided the dogs with their specially developed MEAT and TReat Power sausages, which contain essential electrolytes and amino acids for faster regeneration during exercise. We had these sausages on hand during the runs as a quick pick me up treat and also for refuelling the dogs in the evenings after we have finished the days activities. For more information see the link below:
Other than the addition of the Duck Power sausages, the dogs diet remained as normal and we fed them either a few hours before or after the exercise they were doing to minimise any risk of bloat. I have always given the dogs joint supplements due to the amount of exercise we do, so this was just continued to support them as usual.
For our diet, it was a little bit trickier to get the balance right and because we were covering all the miles (not just stages like the dogs) we needed to make sure we got everything right with nutrition too. We both took a number of supplements to promote general health in the lead up to the challenge and because my other business is based in the health and wellness industry, we used the products from the range I trust.
Our last sponsor was Big Bobble Hats and unfortunately due to the heat we didn’t need our bobble hats, however I’m sure we will be needing them again very soon!
Other things to quickly mention were:
– The dogs pads – we covered most of the mileage on grassy trails but there were a few roads and stony tracks, so checking the dogs pads was part of the daily routine.
– How much water we were drinking – it was warm, so keeping hydrated was hard, especially for us, as the dogs had many natural water points to refresh themselves in.
– The time of day we ran – to avoid the bulk of dog walkers and general public (especially at the weekend) we started our runs at 6.30 am most mornings which worked very well and meant we were finished by lunchtime.
– We had first aid kits on us at all times – thankfully we didn’t need to use any of it but it was there in our back packs just in case.
– We had fully charged phones on us and had enabled tracking on them – you can download apps to allow people to track your location and our support crew knew where we were the majority of the time.
I hope these blogs have been useful and fun for you to read, I’ve certainly enjoyed writing them and re-living the memories of each day and the experience as a whole.
Once again thanks to all our sponsors and those who supported us, to date we have raised over £1,000 for charity and with pledges of more money, we hope to have raised a bit more when the final donations come in!