CaniX UK will host the ECF European Championships for the first time this year at Cirencester Park, Gloucester on 13-14 October. For the uninitiated, Canix (or canicross) is cross-country running with a dog.
Instead of a lead, the dog runs in a harness with a bungee line attached to his/her owner via a waist belt, and is given commands throughout the race. The sport is growing rapidly in popularity in the UK and around Europe with the biggest ever UK team taking part in this year's event as well as competitors from Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Latvia, Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Slovenia, Spain, and Switzerland all taking part in the tournament.
Just like regular cross-country running, there are age group classes for male and females and classes for runners with two dogs. The championships this year will also have classes for mountain bikes (known as Bikjor) and a team relay.
Branded as 'the Dog Olympics', the event, now in its 15th year, is expected to attract thousands of competitors and spectators, and like the Olympics, it will have its own opening and closing ceremonies. The opening ceremony will feature bagpipes, an Irish dance troupe, a Welsh male voice choir and an English sea shanty band - representing all four parts of the British Isles.
Canix runners have been using parkruns to train for the event, as the free weekly 5k timed runs allow you to take part with a dog. So if you've been wondering why there are so many four-legged creatures at your local parkrun, that's the reason.
Scottish Canix runners will have a chance to practice in more competitive surroundings this weekend at Cani-Sports Scotland Races in Mugdock Park, Milngavie. The event includes a 5k feature race, 2k junior run and a bikejor/scooter race. For more information visit Canisports Scotland website.
For details of the European Championships go to the CaniX UK website.