I think it is time to write about totally different experience I had than IFSS World Championship last year in Poland. ICF focuses only on mono-sports, so it was great to see so many athletes dong canicross, bikejor or scooter.
I was super excited as the races where near my hometown so I knew I can spend some time with my family. Unfortunately my two dogs got very unwell first few days in Poland, and Laferra even lost her usual colour, wasnt eating. It was stressful and decision needed to be made. No go, no racing for my two at this ICF. Luckily I got an offer from my coach to run his dog Nero that I know well.
I was gutted I couldn’t run Laferra, as we trained a lot for this… a year… I felt it was right decision to let her rest and see what the future brings for her. It was worrying that she didn’t want to eat and so on.
Few days before actual races we went to our “Athletes accomodation” and I could see that Laferra is picking up being happy around the dogs that she knows from races, training and the UK.
ICF races itself
Well not sure where to start here…
Weather wasn’t help as it was very hot so on second day the course was shorten. However let’s start from the beginning. Trails were amazing, up and down, deep sand, twisty and exciting, very well signed.
Lucky draw so there were a lot of fast people behind us, I was expecting to be overtaken and so on. However I didn’t expect so many people standing on side out there. Yes start and finish had a lot of people spectating, but when we were out on trails there were photographers almost on every corner and also a lot of people spectating there too (shouting and clapping).
Nero and I went very well the first 2km, and unfortunately by the time of split (half way through the course) Nero didnt like photographers sitting almost on trails and those beeping machines. So we got breaks on and tried to pass it all in a positive way. Uff we passed and continue… But the struggle began. As there were only 15sec break between runners we got caught by few and unfortunately (maybe due to weather) dogs were loosing focus in running, I hold Nero to my left side and left the whole right trails for overtaking teams… He got attacked… not once but twice. It was very stressful. It happens tho, I tried to continue running but he was just trotting near me. I just wanted to have positive experience for him. So we continued. It was ok until we got caught by a group of 5 runners…. Dogs lunged towards Nero. Sad. Very sad! We finished but I was upset and frustrated (literally in tears).
Ok lets forget what happened on Day 1 and move on. I took it as an experience and the biggest lesson of my life.
I was dreading for the mass start. What if the dog will think it is ok to lunge after Day 1 experience?! A lot of thoughts were going through my head. It is our turn, I am standing behind everyone to make it safe for Nero and myself.
3,2,1…. goo Oh gosh Nero is smashing it! We pass one, second, third person… in 100 m almost getting into trees and trails! Oh wow we are first into trails. Nero wasnt bother at all and just kept running. Mass start wasnt that bad. However if you don’t like to run in a group it is not the best as the whole round we ran with 3-4 other canicrossers and dogs were a bit looking at each other. We kept going and finish on a positive way.
What an experience
How did I feel then? Frustrated and upset as the plan was to run Laferra. How do I feel now? I am actually glad that she got unwell, she wouldnt cop well with everything what happened on trails. It was hectic and insane, very busy out there. Personally never experience so much in one race. Congestions on trails but also a lot of people on side. We just couldn’t prepare for that as there aren’t any races as busy as that here. It was great experience and I will defo be back to ICF, however I really need to think through how to prepare my little princess for all this chaos.
Personally (and I know people might not agree with me here) I feel like the mass start encourages zigzaging and lunging from dogs towards others. The first 500m is the most crazy when you start as dogs are very wind up for the running. Secondly 15 sec between not seeded runners…. hmm that’s to me the problems all around for us slow runners! Yes I kept under control my dog, but others?! not necessary!.
I am looking forward to next event which is Sweden, I feel that IFSS is a bit safer for me as a slow runner with my shy rescue. ICF was another great experience, maybe not the successful one, but I take it as a lesson. I have been there, I ran for my country Poland, I finished and Nero had fun. I spend time with my friends and looking forward to see them all again.
My experience is my lesson, I will defo try to go to totally different events here in the UK so my dogs can experience different environments, different dogs running around them, different trails. Bring on Sweden next week.