As I was standing at the gate in Haga parkrun after the start two weeks ago, I was waiting for one of the speedy orienteerers that we had that week to appear around the bend in the lead. However, it was not the case, as first around the corner was Amanda Gardelin being led by her dog Gustur on a Cani-cross harness!
Amanda and Gustur train and compete together in Canicross which I learnt is one is one of three disciplines you can compete in “Barmarksdrag” (the other ones being bike or scooter). It is Draghundsportsförbundet that are responsible for all competitions. I got in touch with Amanda and she told me a bit more about her training and competing:
“My dog is named Gustur, he is a border collie, almost 2 years old. And yes, he gets really tired after a race. Most of our races are around 3 km, so 5 km is a real challenge for him. He is very competitive so if he sees someone in front of us, he always tries to catch up, it doesn’t matter how tired he is.
It is super fun running with a dog, it motivates me to know that we both have a good time doing something that also improves our health. If you have a dog that will run in front of you and pull, it can make you run faster. But you need to have good strength in your core and knees to be able to maintain the pace and not to fall if the dog pulls to much.
Canicross is a pretty small sport in Sweden so there is only about 10 races every year, that is why it is so great that dogs are welcome at parkrun. Both times me and Gustur have been in parkrun, everyone has been so friendly and nice, I’m super thankful that this event exists!”
Like in so many other ways (not least by being free) parkrun aims to be inclusive and accessible, and that includes allowing people to run with their dogs. Most parkrun events do allow runners with dogs (including Cani Cross harnesses) and that includes Haga parkrun. Of course there are rules:
- you are only allowed 1 dog per runner
- the welfare of the animal remains the responsibility of the owner throughout their parkrun visit
- the dog has to be under control at all times either on a short lead or a harness with a short lead, to avoid tripping up other runners
- you are not permitted to run with a pushchair and a dog at the same time
Dogs generally help to pull runners around the course (though of course there is the danger of them getting distracted or having the ‘call of nature’ on the way around) and so official parkrun course records cannot be broken when they are ‘dog assisted’. (Event directors can make a note of this in the results I have discovered!)
So if you know someone who enjoys getting some exercise with their dog, tell them to come and join the fun at Haga parkrun, free, every week, dogs and humans alike!
Happy parkrunning everyone!
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