Louise Minchin on canine cross-country

Louise Minchin

Louise Minchin - Credit: Archant

The Chester-based TV Presenter discovers that, when it comes to running, six legs are better than two

It sounds ridiculous given that I call myself a triathlete that, only very recently, have I started to love running. But only a particular kind of running. I don't get any enjoyment out of pavement pounding or monotonous miles trotting on a treadmill, but give me a trail run and it's a joy. I forget it hurts, stop counting the minutes, or metres, and I don't care how slow I am.

That's why I found myself in a car park early on a Sunday morning near Hope Mountain in Flintshire at the start of a 5-mile off-road run. My husband David had come too, as he was planning to take our two Labradors for a walk while I was out on the course.

It wasn't until we arrived, and I saw about half a dozen dogs tethered to their owners, barking and raring to go, that I realised they were taking part in what's called a canicross; a canine cross-country. By chance I had brought a running lead that attaches around my waist with me, and I couldn't resist entering, just for the fun it. I could only run with one dog, so I chose Waffle, six, as one-year-old Ruby hasn't mastered the art of jogging beside me, and her sudden turns sometimes pull me off my feet.

As the starting whistle blew, the dogs rushed forward in a four-legged flurry, leaping over logs and dragging their owners like huskies pulling sleds. I felt like I was in a canine Grand National and it made me snort with laughter. We were in a tight pack until we rounded the first corner and were faced with a fast-flowing knee-deep stream. That did for some of our fellow competitors who point-blank refused to get their fur wet, but Waffle, being a Labrador, leapt in and started swimming.

I found the whole thing hilarious, especially as every time we came back to cross the water, Ruby who was on a hill overlooking it, howled in frustration at not being allowed to join in. After the last crossing I took her lead and we all finished the race together. I have no idea how we did on our timings, but it was one of the best runs I have ever been on, and the thought of it still makes me laugh. I will definitely do another one.

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