Muddy Paw Canicross Race offers competition for dogs and their owners

May 16, 2024   ·   0 Comments

By Brian Lockhart

There were a lot of dogs running through the trails at Monora Park during the Muddy Paw Canicross Race on Saturday, May 11.

The event is one of three that are held every year in the local area.

Canicross has dogs and their owners running through a 5-kilometre or 10-kilometre race with the dogs leading the way. 

A special harness is placed on the dog and is attached to the owner’s waist. The dog then ‘pulls’ the owner through the course.

Most pet owners do some training with their dogs before the event to get the canine used to wearing the harness.

It doesn’t take most dogs long to figure out what is going on, and when the harness is placed on them, they get the idea and are ready to run.

The race is open to any dog breed or size.

“Today is our second annual Muddy Paw Canicross Race where competitors are coming from all over the province and some from the United States as well,” explained Race Director, Shawn Sobon. 

“They’re coming to run hands-free with their dogs in a competitive 5k and 10k race. We have three separate events. We have a spring event, which is this one, a winter event which is at Island Lake, and we have a fall event up in Mansfield at the outdoor centre in October. We have around 60 dogs here today,” Sobon added during the Muddy Paw Canicross Race on May 11.

Competitors must determine by their own physical condition and the condition of their dog, whether they run the short or longer course.

“It’s a timed race,” Shawn explained. “The top three finishers in every category get on the podium and get a trophy. We have four separate categories – we have a single dog 5k, a single dog 10k, and we have two-dog categories.”

Competitor, Sara Marotto, brought her dog Liz to the race.

“We ran the 5k,” Sara said. “It was good, but a little hilly. The dog wears a special pulling harness and you have the waist belt attached to your hips. It’s a belt specifically for canicross because it pulls in such a way that it’s not supposed to hurt your back. The dog pulls out in front of you and you have a bungee leash. For some dogs it comes naturally to them, they have the tendency to want to pull. Others, you have to teach them a little more. Running with other dogs can help encourage them because they see the other dogs running. You get them to associate the harness with pulling.”

Everyone, both dogs and owners, got a good workout on the trails during the race.

One competitor pointed out that prior to the race, the dogs were all very excited and animated. After running the 5k or 10k course, the dogs were all sitting quietly on the grass taking a good rest.

The Canicross event is becoming more popular as a growing number of dog owners learn about it and want to participate.  

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