A run which winds its way through the forestry plantation around the base of scenic Wild Horse Mountain, this entirely off-road experience welcomes dogs into all events. There were many canine entrants in the 10 km event, with our own Guinness, Sherbet, Tiger and Sinner taking part, as well as a couple of dogs in the 50 km event – Bengal and Ebony. No dogs toed the line in the 30 km event, but maybe next year there will be a starter or two.
The course was a 10 km loop, repeated as many times as needed to complete the distance, with two creek crossings and several puddles. The trail surface was varied, with stretches of gravel road, rocky road, sand, singletrack, and doubletrack to negotiate. There was even a short section of stony scree slope to scramble up and down! It certainly gave the trail shoes and foot pads a workout.
It must be remembered that a dog needs to be properly trained in order to complete these distances, and preparation is especially vital for dogs competing in distances of thirty or fifty kilometres. A dog needs to be acclimated to the prevailing weather conditions – it was a pretty warm day – as well as the condition of the trail. A dog whose feet aren’t sufficiently hardened by exposure to trails will be in a great deal of trouble after just one lap of a course like this, with split and blistered pads.
As well as the preparation for the event, it is important to manage the run properly. Just as you wouldn’t continue running if you became injured or overheated during an event, no matter how well prepared, it is important to remember that your dog doesn’t have a race plan or a goal time, and has nothing invested in getting a good time, a podium finish, or picking up a PB. If your dog starts showing signs distress, illness, or lameness during an event, wind back straight away. Bring your pace down to a more manageable level for the dog. Cool the dog down by allowing it to find some shade, wetting it down thoroughly, and letting it get a cooling drink. Stop altogether if your dog’s feet are badly affected by the running surface, or if it develops some other lameness.