Canicross - the fun of running and racing with dogs

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JANE Morris and Chantelle entered their very first canicross race in 2002 after seeing an article about the sport in the newspaper Dog World.
   Thinking it looked like fun Jane put her name down and enjoyed the race so much she has done pretty well every organised canicross event since, always with Chantelle, the glamour standard poodle of the canicross world.
   Here Jane chats about running with dogs.
   "When I bought Chantelle I wanted a dog for running and for showing so she was, and is, ideal. She is nice and steady and very easy to train with.
   "I would say her intelligence is her main strength - she is good at finding the best route through a group of runners.  When we ran Longleat there were about five human runners blocking the way and I could see her looking back and forth to choose the easiest way through.
   "However, she is not competitive
and nor am I so Chantelle is the perfect companion and never complains about
my slow pace. Our strength is that we just keep going.
   "As far as training is concerned we try to run at least three to four times per week.  We do a 30-minute-plus run during the week before I start work as a groomer and we have a longer run at the weekend.
   "During winter months most of the runs have
to be on roads but during summer we try to go off road to nearby woods and across public footpaths.
   "Some of our favourite training runs are when we go out with my training group from my running club and we run off road and
Chantelle is treated like a human being and they say hello to her before I get a look-in.!
   "The longest distance I have canicrossed is 16 miles but the furthest I have raced her is 10 miles. I am a bit lazy and don't generally like running more than six to nine miles. Or the
equivalent of one or two hours.
   "We compete in all the canicross races as well as the 'human' ones when they allow me to bring Chantelle. I have enjoyed all of these but some of the most memorable ones have been where she has come home with mud up to her
   "During one race we had to cross a field which

had been under water the day before and the mud was way past my ankles so you can imagine what a state Chantelle was in!
   "Canicross races are the best because I usually have to get permission to run in the humans-only races and there aren't very many that will allow dogs.
   "I really want to carry on entering all the canicross races and try to tell other dog runners to enter as well. The most important thing with the sport, though, is to ensure you both have a good time and enjoy it.
   "I think it is a great sport and it could be even better with more advertising - in the running magazines for example.       
   "My husband Richard now runs with our poodle, Hugo who also loves it. We have  many funny stories about the dogs but the one our friend likes to tell is the time, after a race, I was eating a hot dog when Chantelle jumped up,  knocking the hot dog out of my hand.  Before it hit the ground Chantelle had the roll and Hugo got the sausage.
   "Through canicross, Chantelle is getting quite famous and people keep telling me that they have seen our picture in various papers so we will have  to keep running."

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