Race Report : Discovery Run, Petworth Park, West Sussex, 30th May 2015

Canicross, Discovery Run Half Marathon, Petworth Park, 2015

Not a bad setting for a race!

This inaugural race, set in the beautiful grounds of the Petworth Estate, attracted over 1,000 runners taking part in the half marathon, 10km or 5km distance. We ran the half marathon.

It was a thoroughly enjoyable event; well organised and very friendly with a lovely, relaxed atmosphere. I would definitely recommend it to canicrossers.

Canicross, Discovery Run Half Marathon, Petworth Park, 2015

Liz & Dexter ready to take on the half marathon!

Parking was on the fields in the main grounds and only about 100 metres from the registration/start area, so very straightforward. All the canicrossers parked together which made for a more relaxed and social atmosphere before and after the race.

We had to collect our race numbers (with chip attached on the reverse) at registration. It’s worth allowing a few extra minutes to do this as we had to queue for a while for ours, although they did fast track the half marathon runners as we set off first.

The Discovery Run Half Marathon, 10km, 5km, Petworth Park, May 2015

“Look no hands!”

Canicross, Discovery Run Half Marathon, Petworth Park, 2015

Go Team Diggy/Coco!

The canicross starts for each distance were 5 minutes after the mass start. We were given a nice wide section to set off from with gates lining the edge so this made it much more manageable and less stressful for the dogs compared to some races I’ve competed in.

The course itself was mostly undulating with a few hills thrown in; most were fairly short but there were two or three steeper, longer climbs (I’m thinking particularly at the mile 9 mark!) which remind your legs what a workout they’re getting!

Canicross, Discovery Run Half Marathon, Petworth Park, 2015

Myla took it easy today…well, fair enough I say 😉

The terrain was firm underfoot; mostly consisting of wide grassy trails with some narrow woodland tracks. There was some tarmac to run on, mainly early on in the race, and gravel track, but not excessive amounts. So a good pair of trail running shoes are the best footwear for this run.

Canicross, Discovery Run Half Marathon, Petworth Park, 2015

The long road ahead!

The course was exposed for large sections of the race so, despite the temperatures only hitting around 15°C (59°F), the sun was out and quite intense given the time of year, so you wouldn’t really want it much hotter for the dogs. The forest sections did provide some welcome respite from the sun and it made for a more varied and interesting course.

Canicross, Discovery Run Half Marathon, Petworth Park, 2015

A lovely section through the woods….but it was also the start of a long gradual climb!

Canicross, Discovery Run Half Marathon, Petworth Park, 2015

A few parts of the run included woodland trail

Luckily the organisers laid on plenty of water stations with bowls for the dogs and there was a nice lake near the end where the dogs enjoyed a welcome dip!

Canicross, Discovery Run Half Marathon, Petworth Park, 2015

A quick dip before taking on the last couple of miles.

The route was very easy to navigate and the marshals were so friendly – it really made a difference!

Canicross, Discovery Run Half Marathon, Petworth Park, 2015

Doggy power!

The event cost me £29.50 to enter and I would say it was good value. We received a technical t-shirt and eco-friendly wooden medal. Though some better refreshments would have been welcome, both at the finish and during the half marathon course where we would normally expect either energy drink or sweets.

Canicross, Discovery Run Half Marathon, Petworth Park, 2015

Sprint finish from Richard & Jumble!

Overall, this was a wonderful event, a defo for next year! And it was lovely to see so many other canicrossers enjoying the day. It does take the edge off the aching limbs when these races have such a great social feel to them!

Canicross, Discovery Run Half Marathon, Petworth Park, 2015

Dexter Dog making it look easy!

Super Sid gives this race 9 out of 10 (only because he would have liked a water trough to lie in at the end and some of the tarmac made it hard underfoot).

And Janet was super happy to take part….;)

Canicross, Discovery Run Half Marathon, Petworth Park, 2015

A jubilant Janet…but with a few miles still to go 😉

Canicross, Discovery Run Half Marathon, Petworth Park, 2015

Catherine & Enzo ran a superb 10km! Well done guys x

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Race Report : Three Forts Challenge Half Marathon, Worthing, 3rd May 2015

To summarise, the Three Forts Challenge is an exceptionally friendly event set in a picturesque location….the latter point is based on my knowledge of the area as opposed to my experiences on the day since the majority of the run was encased in fog!

Three Forts Half Marathon Canicross

To say it was foggy was an understatement!

The course itself is hilly and undulating with mostly wide paths, perfect for canicrossers. However, the terrain is hard underfoot (flinty in some places), so something to bear in mind if you have a dog with sensitive paws. The run is also set in open landscape with very little shade – this didn’t present a problem on this occasion as the fog kept the temperature down and blocked any direct sunlight but it could be a potential issue otherwise.

Canicross at the Three Forts Half Marathon 3rd May 2015

Red pulling well for Derry!

Something that really stood out for me was the fact that we didn’t have to register on the day for this race – race numbers, with the timing chip handily attached to the reverse, were sent out in the post before the race – so all we had to do was turn up just before the start! Perfect if you have a dog that gets excitable at races and you don’t want to hang around too long before it gets going.

It’s worth noting, however, that parking was limited to one main car park which was not large enough to accommodate all the runners. We were asked to find parking along nearby residential roads which wasn’t a problem but it did add on a few additional minutes.

We set off on the half marathon at 10:30am (there was also a full marathon option) after a short briefing from the race starter.

Three Forts Half Marathon Canicross

This was typical terrain for much of the race

Starting from the recreation ground on Hill Barn Lane, Worthing the run takes you along a fairly narrow track that gradually climbs north of Worthing to Cissbury Ring, the largest hill fort in Sussex. On a clear day, apparently you can see as far as the Isle of Wight. Today, I could probably see about 50 metres in front of me!

There is just about enough room to overtake on this narrow stretch but if you are a quick canicrosser I would advise starting near the front of the race to avoid having the added stress of overtaking.

From hereon the paths are much wider but remain hard underfoot throughout. The route itself is mostly undulating with the occasional flat section and more significant climbs up to Steyning Bowl, Chanctonbury Ring and Cissbury Ring once more. The last couple of miles take you back down the initial climb at the start of the race to the recreation ground.

Canicrossers and runners at the Three Forts Half Marathon 3rd May 2015

A rare break in the clouds!

Overall there is approx 1,450m of climbing, so fairly healthy!

I mention all these beauty spots but given the foggy conditions we really could have been anywhere!

The route was clearly signposted with marshals at key places and there were four water/aid stations on the route where you could have water, orange drink, jelly babies and pieces of bananas. There were no bowls of water for the dogs, however, which would have been more of an issue had it not been a cool day and recently rained – though I tend to carry water for the dogs on these longer distances and/or improvise with the cups provided.

A very foggy Three Forts Challenge Half Marathon Worthing 3rd May 2015

More fog!

As for recommended footwear, I would advise a mid-grip off-road shoe. I found that, whilst the course was hard underfoot, the damp conditions (recent rain and fog) made the surfaces very greasy in places, due to the wet chalk and clay. I wore a my Inov8 Trailrocs and found these comfortable for what I needed.

nd of Three Forts Marathon Canicross Race May 2015

Kirsty & Fyn ran a superb race!

Overall this is a lovely course, well run with friendly marshals and fellow runners. Despite the sizeable turnout it had a nice local event feel – even the mayor and local press made an appearance! And all runners who completed the course received a medal.

End of Three Forts Marathon Canicross Race May 2015

Super Sid did his mum proud as ever!

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Race Report : Endurance Life CTS, Sussex Half Marathon 21st March 2015

This is a very well organised and beautiful event. Above all, it’s canicross friendly with wide compact paths, a friendly vibe and water stations.

I would highly recommend the Endurance Life CTS Sussex event to anyone looking for something special in the canicross racing calendar. Just don’t expect a PB as it’s got a few hills in it!

Canicrossers at Sussex CTS Half Marathon 21.03.2015

The Sussex CTS is a beautiful course hugging the coastline of dramatic white cliffs from East Dean towards Eastbourne

This rolling course starts from Birling Gap, East Dean and largely tracks the dramatic coastline of brilliant white cliffs towards Eastbourne with views out over the English Channel.

We ran the half marathon distance (my GPS actually tracked it as just shy of 13 miles) which effectively followed a figure of 8 lap, taking us in-land a couple of times. Though there are options to run 10km, a full marathon or ultra distance. I was totally in awe of those running the ultra, whilst Sidney was just relieved we’d only entered the half! 😉

Canicrossers at Sussex CTS Half Marathon 21.03.2015

Typical paths on the course – perfect for canicrossers!

Being a coastal trail run there are hills as I mentioned, including the famous Seven Sisters, and there’s a total ascent of nearly 2,500ft. But compared to many of the other courses in the series, the Sussex CTS isn’t too taxing. Classed as ‘strenuous’, the hills are not treacherous underfoot or too steep (there is just one steep downhill section to speak of).

The paths are easy and firm to run on – just watch out for the occasional rabbit hole! As for foot wear, I would recommend trail shoes, no need for terribly grippy trainers as there was no mud.

The event is canicross friendly but it is worth mentioning that if you have an anxious dog there is a lot of waiting around between registration and the start. Ideally we would have gone back to the car but the problem we found was that the actual start time was not clear on the website.

It states that registration closes at 09:45 with the ‘briefing/start’ from 10-10:30am  so we felt we needed to be ready for 10am. When in actual fact, people were still registering at 10:15, the briefing took place at 10:25 (and it’s a long briefing) and the race didn’t start until 10:45, by which time one of my dogs was very eager to get going (understatement!) and we were freezing cold.

Some more clarity regarding actual start time would just help.

Canicrossers at Sussex CTS Half Marathon 21.03.2015

Red and Dexter leading the way on the half marathon!

Car parking this year was a great improvement on last year where we had to park a mile away and get a bus down to the main area. The organisers had managed to secure a bigger space (on local fields) for parking just a 5 minute walk from the registration and start.

Registration was in a marquee. There was a fair bit of queueing despite us allowing plenty of time but you have to collect your number, pins, chip, free goodies (a fab technical t-shirt and yummy Cliff bar!) and sign your name on a sheet, so there’s a fair bit to do.

Canicrossers at Sussex CTS Half Marathon 21.03.2015

Getting ready for the start!

The chip timing is interesting. You wear the chip around your wrist and a marshal has to physically clock you in/out.  This happened at the start, 2.5 mile mark, 8 mile mark and finish. This strikes me as highly inefficient (especially early on when it’s more congested) and potentially frustrating if you are racing someone to the finish line at the end.

Once we finally set off the course itself was gorgeous and really easy to navigate – there are small but effective markers that do a great job at not creating an eyesore and detracting from the beauty of the course.

The organisers take the health and safety of both people and dogs seriously and runners doing over 10km are required to carry a backpack with emergency supplies. There are also two refreshment stops en route at around 2.5 and 8 miles. We were spoilt with custard creams, jelly babies, water and pieces of Cliff bar.

There were also special red water buckets for the dogs which was wonderful to see (thank you) – though the red bucket at the first station had no water in it and appeared to have been used as a litter bin by the runners!

Canicrossers at Sussex CTS Half Marathon 21.03.2015

Karina & Max at the end of their 10km

It’s worth emphasising the overall atmosphere and friendliness of this race. I found everyone to be very accommodating of the canicross runners and one kind runner even offered to help me with my dog when we had to go over a stone wall/style.

Overall, this is a fantastic course and a lovely one for canicrossers to do. You get gorgeous views, a challenging course with nice wide paths for the dogs, a brilliant atmosphere and great freebies!

Canicrossers at Sussex CTS Half Marathon 21.03.2015

Sid, Dexter & Red with their medals 🙂

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Race Report : MudMan 10/15km, Camberley, 7th March 2015

I’m writing this race report while the pain is still fresh in my memory (and my legs!) and just in case I make the same mistake next year as I did this year and decide to enter this race again!

Just kidding Human Race Events people, we love you, really….maybe not at this precise moment, or even over the next few days, but all will be forgiven in time for the next race 😉

Start of the Human Race MudMan 10km, Canicrossers, Camberley, 7th March 2015

Start of 10km canicross race

First things first though, I am unofficially renaming this event ‘MountainMan’. There was barely any mud (which is no bad thing) but plenty of hills…and double the quantity if you did the 15km which comprised of two laps (the 10km consisted of a 2.5km lap followed by one of the 7.5km laps).

I lost count of how many hills there were and they were unforgiving…for about a 3 mile section there was one hill after the other until I admit, on lap two, I did cry out in agony. My legs were not happy I can tell you! And I certainly had a sense of humour failure when I saw the witty signposts with ‘Climb Harder’ and ‘Climb Even Harder’ written on them 😉

I’m sure if we added all the hills up we could have landed our first canicrosser on the moon!

The Human Race MudMan 10/15km, Canicrossers, Camberley, 7th March 2015

I’m sure there were as many Vizslas as there were hills today 😉

The Human Race MudMan 15km, Canicrossers, Camberley, 7th March 2015

New boy Enzo ‘The Engine’ showing everyone how it’s done! 🙂

If I haven’t put anyone off from doing it next year 😉 then here’s the full low down on the race…

Set in the grounds of the MOD in Camberley, MudMan is the third in the Human Race Off-Road series. As with IceMan last month, I can’t fault the organisation, atmosphere and marshalling of this event. Most importantly, canicrossers were made to feel very welcome as always – the dogs even got a treat from one of the lovely ladies at the finish. Red and Sid say thank you!

Sidney (aka Super Sid) was my trusted running partner and together we took on the 15km distance. This consisted of wide, compacted and stony paths (which could be a bit tricky underfoot), narrow forest trails and gullies – a challenging course as I mentioned, but certainly not boring!

The Human Race MudMan 15km, Canicrossers, Camberley, 7th March 2015

Putting a brave face on it (don’t be fooled!)

There was one small section (c40 metres) where we had to run through water. This was hard/concreted underfoot and the water only came up to shin level. But apart from that, and the occasional puddle, the terrain was dry and firm. Therefore, you do not need the grippiest of trainers (do not be misled by the event name) and are probably better off running in a pair of trail trainers. You may also prefer a bit of cushioning given the hard ground.

The Human Race MudMan 10km, Canicrossers, Camberley, 7th March 2015

Team Tea looking pro!

The Human Race MudMan 10/15km, Canicrossers, Camberley, 7th March 2015

Richard & Jumble enjoying a rare flat section!

There was a great turn out of both canicrossers and dogless runners across the two distances but I did find this one much more conducive for overtaking compared to IceMan.

I wasn’t constantly having to shout out to warn runners that I was coming past them (which is good etiquette when you have a dog attached to you). I’m presuming this was mainly due to the predominance of wide paths and the fact that the volume and steepness of the hills would have helped thin out the runners fairly quickly. To be honest, I was grateful for this as I needed all my energy for the hills! ;

The Human Race MudMan 10km, Canicrossers, Camberley, 7th March 2015 The Human Race MudMan 10km, Canicrossers, Camberley, 7th March 2015

Ginetta & Coco flying the flag for North Downs Canicrossers

The signposting on the course was easy to follow – there were arrows every few metres and ‘no go’ areas were taped off to avoid any confusion.

The race was chip timed (you are given a chip to attach to one of your trainers) with results texted to your mobile within seconds of crossing the line – a nice little feature!

We also received a free Craft technical t-shirt which is so much better than the cotton ones they gave out last year.

Parking and registration was very straightforward but make sure you allow 5-10 minutes to get to the start area.

The Human Race MudMan 10/15km, Canicrossers, Camberley, 7th March 2015

Jo & Daisy at full pelt alongside Claire & Monty the Magnificent. Great running from all the canicrossers today!

All in all, this is a fabulous course for anyone who’s looking for a challenging off road race with a bit of a bite to it. It’s tough but hugely satisfying when you cross that finish line. And if anyone is in any doubt as to how much the dogs enjoy canicross, just come to one of these races or check out the photos and you’ll see how much fun they have. Sidney absolutely loves it. He just wants to run and when we finish he always gives me a great big sloppy kiss!

Thanks Human Race Events for putting on a great event and for welcoming canicrossers. See, I’m already starting to like you again 🙂

And a special thank you to the talented Tanja Russell for the wonderful photos.

I’ll end this write up with one of my favourite pictures from the race, the lovely Olivia & her boy Rubin…

The Human Race MudMan 10/15km, Canicrossers, Camberley, 7th March 2015

Olivia and her gorgeous boy Rubin 🙂

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Race Report : IceMan 11km/16km, Frimley, 7th Feb 2015

This was my second IceMan. When I raced in my first last year I had only been canicrossing for around five months. I’d like to say I’m a little wiser for it; perhaps because this time I ran it with my trusted, dependable Staffy Sidney rather than my other dog Red, who is highly erratic – pulling like a train initially (cue screams of terror from whoever’s attached to her at the time) and then losing complete interest half way round the course.

Super Sid, as he is nicknamed, is the perfect canicross dog. He flew around this course – I mean literally…

Sidney racing in IceMan 16km, Human Race Events, Feb 2015

Super Sid the Flying Dog!

Anyway, after our last race (the Women’s Only Brutal) Sid did make a special request; that the next one would not involve wading through waist deep ice filled water. So, true to my word, we took part in IceMan, the second in the Human Race Events off-road series, taking place at the army training ground in Frimley  – a nice dry event underfoot.

Mmmm, maybe not THAT nice! Unless you love hills! I mean really love hills – so much so that you would take them on twice over. Well, that was the condition if you ran the 16km distance, which we did.

Runners had the option to race an 11km distance (a 6km loop followed by a 5 km loop) or 16km distance (6km loop followed by two lots of the 5km loop).

Canicrossers, IceMan 16km, Human Race Events, Feb 2015

The start of the 16km!

The first 6km was undulating with some nice wide paths; mostly firm underfoot and even rocky in places. This was ideal as it enabled the runners to settle into the race and made it more conducive for overtaking, especially as canicrossers are made to start just two minutes after the mass start, so we were catching up with some of the slower runners very early into the race. Is this a good idea? My personal opinion is that canicrossers are better off starting a few minutes before the main start so it’s less disruptive for everyone else but the wider paths in this race made it less of an issue to be honest.

Canicrossers, IceMan 16km, Human Race Events, Feb 2015

Claire & Monty the Magnificent!

The 5km loop is a bit of a shock to the system! Be prepared for the course to take on a complete change; from nice wide undulating paths to narrower, more technical/winding paths with a few steep hills thrown in for good measure. Ouch! And, as I said, if you entered the 16km you have to do this loop twice!

Canicrossers, IceMan 16km, Human Race Events, Feb 2015

Sid wasn’t the only one flying…check out those ears on Hank!

Whilst many people will claim to hate hill climbs (hate is a strong word but perhaps justified) I actually like the challenge – it makes for a more interesting race. So I really enjoyed the course. For me, however, (and I’m sure I’m not alone in this sentiment) it’s the downhill slopes that I really do not like! Not only do I find it stresses my knees but it’s extra tough when you have a strong pulling dog attached to you that sees the downhill section as an opportunity to run even harder! As much as I cry out “WITH ME!!!!!” whilst trying to keep the line short and my breathing regulated, this never seems to have the desired effect!

Canicrossers, IceMan 16km, Human Race Events, Feb 2015

Sarah & her boys!

As for the whole organisation and logistics behind the event, I would say it was superb. There was plenty of information online ahead of the race, including a race pack with everything you need to know. The venue itself was easy to find and registration couldn’t have been easier – simply collect your number and chip and you’re good to go!

I did find the parking slightly haphazard in that spaces were dotted around as opposed to being in one large area. But it wasn’t a big deal and, more importantly, it was right next to the registration and start/finish area.

At the end of the race we also received a very nice Craft technical t-shirt!

Free Craft t-shirt fron IceMan 2015Free Craft t-shirt fron IceMan 2015

To sum up, this is a great event in the canicross calendar – a challenging course with a bit of everything that an off-road runner would expect from a Human Race event. A big thank you to the organisers and marshals for putting on a superb race and, as always, making us canicrossers feel very welcome.

Finally, if this picture isn’t an advert for canicross, then I don’t know what is…

A happy canicrosser at IceMan, Frimley 2015

Smiles for Miles! The gorgeous Hannah, Alba & Roma

A big thank you to Tanja Russell for the brilliant photos 🙂


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Race Report : Women Only Brutal 10km, Long Valley, 24th Jan 2015

Man free zone at today's Brutal 10km, Long Vallley, 24/01/2015

When the alarm went off on race day morning the first thing I did was check the weather. “Please, please let the forecast I saw late last night miraculously change from 3ºC to 10ºC?” But, alas no, it wasn’t to be.

Even Super Sid Canicross Dog was having none of it!


Eventually I managed to coax him out of bed with the promise of a ‘walkies’. What a mean mum I am!

When we arrived at the race venue it was already buzzing with excitement….and thankfully, despite the temperature, it was a sunny day with a bright blue sky. This gave me a slight psychological lift…for a moment 😉

In addition to 1st, 2nd and 3rd place prizes (for the non canicrossers) there were spot prizes for “best dressed group”, “muddiest group” and “largest group” so it was fantastic to see some fellow canicrossers dressed up in various outfits! A few of the ladies from Hart & Rushmore Canicrossers went for the slightly understated look 😉

Hart & Rushmore canicrossers at the Women Only Brutal, 5km, 10km 24/01/2015

The Hart and Rushmore Girls shaking their tutus!

Fancy dress at Brutal10, Jan 2015

Where’s Wally?

The Brutal races are always popular but it’s very rare that you see a post on their site days before the race declaring that the event has sold out and that there will be no entries accepted on the day! But that was exactly the response to this inaugural ‘not for men’ event. I heard that there were around 800 participants in total, and a reasonable percentage were canicrossers.

The ‘no man zone’ consisted of either a 5km (1 lap) or 10km (2 lap) course. As always, it couldn’t have been easier to park and register – it was just short walk from the car park to pick up your number and timing chip with the start/finish area right next door!

The canicross start (which started 10 minutes before the mass start) proved to be the usual fast ‘n furious opener to the race. This short video captures it really well!

Start of Women Only Brutal, Canicross 10km 24/01/2015

At the start line for the Women Only Brutal 10km

Apart from the fact that no men were allowed, this race consisted of everything you’d expect from a Brutal; lots of mud and clay, large long water sections, short sharp hills, winding paths, technical forest trail and wide open sections. If anything, I would say it was up there as one of the toughest courses, largely because it took place on one of the coldest days of the year after a particularly cold spell of weather – just to get those lovely waist deep water sections to breath-taking levels!

I would say, however, that if you are not keen on really hilly races this was fairly kind compared to other Brutals I’ve raced. There weren’t actually that many hills and when they did pop up they were very short; so all in all a fairly fast course…..if it wasn’t for the water obstacles!

So, those goddamn wet areas?!! Not only were they fffffrreeeeeeezing cold, and there were at least three or four at waist level, but they had chunks of ice floating around in them! And, if that wasn’t enough, one wet section consisted of thick, soggy clay underfoot so it felt like we were trying to wade through treacle! All good fun of course 😉

I see no icebergs...full steam ahead!

I see no icebergs…full steam ahead!

Ice bath time!

Ice bath time!

It’s worth knowing that if you do have a dog that doesn’t cope too well with the cold it is possible to avoid the deeper water sections. Then again, if all else fails, you can always carry them…

"Carry me Mum"

“Carry me Mum”

Some dogs have got the right idea!

Some dogs have got the right idea!

If I had any criticism whatsoever it was that the two lap course, with narrow paths in many places, wasn’t ideal given the volume of runners. Many of us on our second lap hit a few bottlenecks as we caught up with some of the slower non canicross runners. This is where figure of eight courses often work well when you want to offer a 5km and a 10km option.

That said, the whole event was really well run and great fun with a brilliant atmosphere – us girls know how to hold a canicross party! 😉

Liz and Dexter braving the long cold water section at the end of the race

Liz and Dexter still smiling at the end of the race 🙂

A nice little bonus was that we all received a finisher’s medal and there was the opportunity to purchase a special ladies fit technical t-shirt (rather than the unisex sizes); these are really good value t-shirts at just £10. I’ve got a nice little collection going already!

If you want to get a glimpse of the canicross race in all its glory take a peak at this fantastic video taken by my friend Juliet using her Go Pro. She kindly ran with my Doberman/Ridgeback Cross and is a much braver lady than me!

A big thank you to Paul Russell, Anthony Evenden and Derry Walker for the excellent photos 🙂

Womens Only Brutal, Canicross 10km, Long Valley 24/01/2015

A rare dry, sunny section!

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Race Report : Brutal, Longmoor Camp 8km/16km, 27th Dec 2014

Early on Saturday morning, Sidney (my running partner in crime) and I were dragging ourselves out of our respective beds to face the reality that, yes, we did enter a gruelling 16km off-road race just two days after Christmas! And I can safely say that this Brutal was brutal in every way…

Start of 8km and 16m Brutal canicross off road race Dec 2014

-3° and they’re off!

It was brutally cold at 3° (and with the wind chill felt like -3°!), brutally wet (one section was well above the stated waist level for these races) and brutally hilly (short, sharp, long, steep, they just kept on coming!).

But, much like the majority (if not all) of the runners that day, we enjoyed every minute of it…mmm, maybe not the part when I lost the feeling in both my feet, which was fairly soon into the race!

Set in Longmoor army camp, this year’s course was brand new with loads of challenges along the way. There was the option of one or two laps of an 8km route. We ran the 16km course. I’m not normally keen on laps but this course was so varied and interesting that it didn’t bother me at all. In fact, it had a bit of everything; compacted trail, mud, sand, flat sections, hills and water, which made for a challenging yet really fun race.

Canicross Brutal Run, Longmoor, Dec 2014

Just a taster before we hit the deeper sections!

The hills start fairly early into the course so my advice would be to pace yourself as much as possible, especially if you are tackling the 16km (though not always possible when you have an over eager dog pulling you!). Most of the hills were short and sharp so weren’t too bad compared to other trail races I’ve done but there were three or four longer, steeper hills that would have tested even the fittest of runners.

Canicross, Brutal, Longmoor, Dec 2014

If it’s not hilly enough, they go and throw some sand in too!

As for the water sections, these were not as long as those at the recent Long Valley Brutal race but they were much colder! There were probably three reasonably short sections and one longer section ranging from thigh to waist level. But the main attraction (for spectators!) was the short, yet exceptionally deep, ‘Bog of Doom’, a water filled trench which had to be crossed twice from one side of the bank to the other. The water here was easily armpit/shoulder level and I must admit the coldness took my breath away, literally, …even second time around!

Canicross Brutal Run, Longmoor, Dec 2014

It was THIS deep and THIS cold!

Sidney was determined to avoid this section on the second lap, so much so that he tried (unsuccessfully!) to jump the Bog of Doom…


Canicross Brutal Run, Longmoor, Dec 2014

Super Sid attempts to jump the Bog of Doom!


Canicross Brutal Run, Longmoor, Dec 2014


Suffice to say Sid didn’t get very far 😉

Of the Brutal races I have taken part in so far, I would say this is one of the most conducive for racing (with the exception of Minley) as the water sections weren’t terribly long and the trails were very compacted and easy to navigate. Yes, there were a lot of hills but they were manageable.

As always the organisation was spotless and the course itself exceptionally well marked. Parking at the event was very easy with a short walk to the registration area. It takes just a couple of minutes to collect your racing chip (a velcro wrist band) and number. The race is good value too; just £10 for the 8km and £20 for the 16km. And, as an added bonus, we all received a lovely free technical t-shirt to mark the 5th anniversary of Brutal!

I would just add, if you do have a dog that is susceptible to the cold, you may want to consider just entering the 8km distance.

All in all, it was a brilliant Brutal race to end 2014 🙂

Check out this cool video of some of the race, courtesy of Juliet & Maria: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vljwlTzbp_U&feature=youtu.be

Brutal 16km, Canicross, Longmoor, Dec 2014






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