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…
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).
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.
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!
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!
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!
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 big thank you to Tanja Russell for the brilliant photos 🙂