Cross-country running with man's best friend


By Amanda MacMillan

FIFE is getting ready to host an unusual sporting event which involves dog owners taking part in competitive racing with their pesky pooches.

CaniX is a new sport in which competitors attach their dogs to a harness around their waist and run cross-country with them.

A two-day event is taking place at Lochore Meadows Country Park at Lochgelly, in Fife next weekend to allow dog owners of all ages to try out the sport.

One man who knows how much fun the sport can be is 42-year-old Colin Reid, who races with his four-year-old Border Terrier Mitch.

The pair are one of the country’s only regular teams in the sport and they recently finished 23rd out of 41 in the age class of 40-49 in the European Championships.

Mr Reid is now keen to introduce the sport to more Scots.

He said: “You don’t really need any special training to do it.

“Hopefully at this event there will be a lot of Scottish people trying it out for the first time.

“The dogs get used to it very quickly and they love it.”

CaniX races typically stretch to around 5km but some of the events this weekend will be shorter.

Dogs are typically attached to their owners via a waist belt, a bungee line and a racing harness.

Man and dog must work together to ensure maximum speed, taking turns to lead and the harnesses are specially designed so that if a dog pulls, it will not injure its owner.

Dogs of all shapes and sizes are welcome to compete, from Great Danes to Chihuahua’s.

Tiny Border Terrier Mitch is one of the smallest competitors in the sport and there is no holding him back.

In the European Championships held in Belgium earlier this month Mr Reid and Mitch finished in seventh place within the UK team of 39.

Despite being a member of the Carnegis Harriers running club in Dunfermline, Mr Reid thinks that nothing beats running with man’s best friend.

He said: “I prefer to run with the dog than without now. You work as a team and there’s a lot of teamwork involved.”

The two-day Fife event will also include bikejoring, which involves mountain biking with dogs.

There will also be a range of cross-country running events, with 18 different age classes aimed at both adults and children, as well as a 5km racing circuit designed for the more athletic competitors.