In July 2016, Georgie Lambert contacted DogFit to find out more about canicross. Having never tried the sport before, she wanted to book a DogFit training session with her rescue collie, Benson and also get to get the correct kit to start canicrossing. Fast forward two years and the pair were competing at the Canicross World Championships in Poland!
We finally caught up with George and Benson, who are fresh back from qualifying for the 2019 Championships in Belgium. What a success story!
Hi Georgie. Tell us about the lovely Benson
“Benson is nearly three years old and a beautiful collie cross. I rehomed him at three years old and he has been the best thing that ever happened to me.”
What made you sign up to your first canicross class?
“When I first brought Ben home, he was a nightmare when it came to recall. He was also rather overweight and I knew that he needed more exercise to stay healthy. I have always enjoyed running and had heard about canicross, but I didn’t really understand what was involved, or that it was a sport that lots of people did. So, I booked us into a DogFit Canicross class to find out more about it.
That first class was amazing – we had so much fun! We learned all the commands and had our first ever canicross run together. The DogFit instructor helped me get to grips with everything and made sure I was doing things safely. By the end of the session, Ben and I were hooked and couldn’t wait to go back for more.”
What kit do you use?
“Benson runs in a Non-stop Freemotion harness. He is quite broad so it fits easily across his back and shoulders. I always make sure he feels comfortable in it and I book him in for regular sports massages as well to make sure he stays fit and injury free.”
So how did you get into the competing side?
“I’ve always thrived on competitions, especially running, and Ben seemed to instinctively know what a start and finish line were from the very beginning. We started out by entering a few smaller competitions to help us learn the ropes, but I quickly decided to take a step further and enter some national events.”
That sounds exciting!
“Yes, it has been. We did rather well and ended up qualifying for the world championships, which were held in Poland last October. Everything seems to have happened in a very short space of time, but Ben is a natural at canicross and has really enjoyed our time competing together.”
What do your fellow racers make of Benson?
“It was quite funny when we were in Poland, actually. Benson is not the normal kind of dog that competes in canicross. All the other dogs that were there look like proper sprinters, while Ben is much fluffier. People told me how sweet it was that I had brought my companion dog to watch the race and were quite surprised when I told them that Ben would be racing alongside their dogs!”
You have recently acquired another dog that you are hoping to train up for canicross as well. Tell us about her.
“After the world championships, I knew I wanted to get a second dog, so we went and found a little sister for Ben. Bea is a Scandinavian hound and just eight and a half months old. She will hopefully start training for canicross when she is a year old. I think she will like it too, although she has a very different temperament to Ben. Very lively!”
So, what’s next for you and canicross?
“Ben and I have just qualified for the world championships once again, and we will be off to Belgium to compete in the finals later in the year. In the meantime, we are also going to enter a few ‘maverick’ races, or local trail-based runs to keep up the training in a more relaxed way. Ben likes these kind of races as you can start off at timed intervals – he can find masses starts a bit intimidating with all the crowds that are there.
I will also ramp up the early morning runs as the weather gets warmer and, of course, see how Bea gets on with it all as well. She will probably also wear a Non-stop Free-motion harness, but I will have to see how she grows and what suits her best.”
What advice would you give anyone hoping to follow in your canicross footsteps?
“The key thing for us both was that we did it for fun to start out with. From there, we learnt what worked for us and found our own way through. I have always really enjoyed racing and I had a feeling that Ben would too. Make sure you find a good group of people to make it a sociable occasion – for the dogs as well. Once you move on to competing, try and find some local races that offer timed interval starts to let your dog get used to it gradually without getting spooked by too crowded a start line.”
DogFit are super proud of what Georgie and Benson have achieved and continue to support them in the future competing careers. As a company, we celebrate everyone that participates in the sport, whether you are jogging 1K or competing at World Championships! If you would like to know more about this fabulous sport and how to start – please do get in touch.
You can watch our interview with Georgie and Benson below: