I have just ran the shortest 8k ever! No idea how it happened but I’m merrily jogging along when a marshal says ‘almost at the end now’! Seriously? I was convinced I was only half way around!
Today was the MaverickInov-8 Trail Run at Stonor Park, Henley-on-Thames and what a fantastic event. It was advertised as a trail run with 3 distances – short 8k, medium 15k and long 21k although I emailed and asked if I could run with Benny, my border collie. ‘We are totally dog friendly’ came the instant response from the very lovely Ben. So, quite literally bright eyed and bushy tailed we headed over to Henley on the big day to pick up our timer chip and number at registration.
Surprisingly, there were quite a few other canicrossers there and Benny (and his flirty girlfriend Rhodi) absolutely insisted on saying hello to every single one of them! Whilst he greeted his fellow competitors with the ‘let’s be friends’ butt sniff salutation, one particularly refined Dalmatian, genteelly rubbed cheeks as if sharing kisses. I didn’t think it was a good time to mention to him that it was actually a boy dog!
We lined up at the start with all dogs at the rear. An excited little brown dog was standing at the front, literally raring to go and howling excitedly all the while! Of course, as soon as the start ‘woohoo’ sounded (they didn’t have a gun so the organiser improvised) all the dogs set off at top speed dragging their helpless humans behind them! Props to the lady in blue with two who hurtled past me at the start … did your feet even touch the ground?
The start was a little chaotic as it’s up a steep muddy moor track but once at the top the views of Stonor House were amazing. Shame I didn’t see it – perhaps they need to make it bigger?
The forest of course has numerous tree roots hiding under copious amounts of golden leaves and desperate to trip you up. However, once we were through the deer gate, everyone found their pace and place and the run settled down nicely.
Three lovely Scottish ladies in orange with a pile of enthusiastic pooches were commenting about how many tempting places there were to lie down and roll. I have to agree … after the hill we had just climbed I was sorely tempted to lie down and roll myself.
The course itself was amazing – it had everything from moorland tracks, forest trails, muddy uphill climbs, grass fields, treacherous technical declines and a fab flat piece of road to make up the miles.
I was sure I had only ran about 4K when I started a long descent down a leaf littered track. The pro’s were running past at a death defying pace and whislt I was trying to be polite and encourage Benny to move to one side to let them past he was having non of it. The excitement was too much and in his mind, if they could run downhill the so could I so he set off at a gallop. I stumbled, screamed and scrambled my way down.
Thankfully the track finally flattened out in a patch of nettles with a marshal at the end. ‘You’re nearly finished’ he said and we laughed begrudgingly at his cruel joke. However, 200m further on there was the finish and my loyal supporters … who had amused themselves by taking selfies!
Bugger – if only I had believed the marshal I could have finished with an impressive sprint finish!
Not to worry – we crossed the finish line and Benny proudly accepted his medal and I the bottle of beer and coffee!
This was an amazing run and is definitely on our list again for next year! Well done Maverick Events, Inov-8 and all the marshals and people that made this happen!
Most people running had ‘trail shoes’ with stud like grips and they literally sprinted down the muddy trails whilst I slipped and slid barely managing to stay on my feet. So I’m off to buy a pair of Inov-8 X-Talon 200 trail shoes for my next event (because these match my outfit)! Small price to pay to keep my dignity and bottom intact too!
Get in the queue for the loo early!
Keep your eyes open for the signs – me and another lady almost jogged off along an enticingly flat piece of road.
If you are spectating do have some of the fabulous cake.
Have a look at the non-stop harnesses. These seemed to work best for the other dogs that were running and are also on my ‘wish list’ for Christmas.
PS If there are any canicrossers in the local area who fancy meeting up for some training – please just drop me a line!