Well it seems like an age ago that I signed up (fairly early on in our canicross journey) to this amazing looking event somewhere in Wales, it was in fact nearly a year ago I think! I remember having all these grand plans of training up hills and getting myself and Peggy super fit and ready for the 10 mile event safe in the knowledge that it was billed as well marshalled with no real cut off times so we could trek it if need be.
In reality it came at the end of a warmish summer that had made lengthy runs with Peggy hard to achieve, coupled with a rolled ankle for me at the beginning of September and a thorn in Peggy’s pad three weeks ago we very nearly didn’t make it all.
I had booked for camping and the social night but for one reason or another I ended up booking a last minute dog friendly hotel for the Friday night pre race and made the decision to drive home after the race, forgoing the social evening and curry.
I have to admit I was a bit nervous about the kit check etc as I have never run any further than 7 miles for an event and it all seemed a bit daunting … do I have to take the dog in her gear or just the harness on it’s own etc?!? It turned out to be a simple procedure of show them the harness etc and tell them what I had in my race pack to ensure I had the mandatory kit, which of course I did and more besides!
The race briefing was concise and easy to understand, no dogs allowed so it was easy to hear what Jon was telling us for the 10 mile event as the 22 milers had already gone by this point.
The start was a short walk up into the village and into a field behind a pub, I knew beforehand that the was a window of half an hour that you could set off in (not a mass start or timed individual start) so having stood and watched a couple of people set off I decided to get on with it and we crossed the start line straight up a fairly strong hill, as I turned the corner I could see some people were walking it so we plodded along at a steady jog for as long as we could. It seemed like we climbed for quite a while just running and fast walking when needed as I was aware that we had a long way to go and I just wanted to get us round safely. Eventually we entered the woodland area which was typical stony tracks uphill and then tree root riddled downhills where I was pleased to see that Peggy was listening to my command of ‘steady’ … if only she pulled as much uphill as she does going down! There was also plenty of water to be found in the woods for the dogs and Peggy enjoyed sploshing along in it whenever possible.
We eventually ended up out on the Welsh hillsides with ups and downs and dry bits and wet bits, passing through a farm where we were assured the cows would be shut away only to be confronted with a field full of cows, calves and a F***ing bull as they guy in front shouted back to us, they were in fact no trouble at all and just watched us all trundle past. I then found myself in with a nice little group of people and we all trotted along together passing, catching up and so on until we reached the hill that Jon had laughed at when he mentioned it in the briefing and we realised why he laughed … our legs screamed even at a walk but we kept plodding and eventually crested the hill which lead us steadily back down to Llanharan.
The final descent was on quite a slippery tarmac footpath that we had been warned about and I have to say I felt a well of emotion as we ran down to the road and an enthusiastic marshal was ringing her cowbell shouting ‘come on lovely spaniel’ to Peggy. The marshals guided us back through the village, stopping traffic for us to cross the roads and eventually we were heading for the finish line in a time of 2 hours and 36 minutes.
The event was so friendly, the marshals were lovely, I saw lots of photographers en route, the course signage was amazing and the scenery was fantastic too. In a fit of madness some time ago I entered the 3 day staged event that they are putting on in April next year and having experienced this one I’m thoroughly looking forward to it now, happy in the knowledge that we will be coming out of winter so we will have a chance to be better prepared.
All in all I would definitely recommend the Red Kite trail events, I’m just gutted that I couldn’t camp and have the full experience but sometimes life takes over!