he Cotswold Way, which is a long distance trail of over 100 miles off road running, is something I have wanted to complete with the dogs since a failed attempt at the West Highland Way nearly 5 years ago now.
My friend Karen and I decided over 6 months ago we were definitely going to do it and the training began almost straight away, after the European Championships in Scotland in October last year. Although training through the winter was easier, unfortunately for us, the weekend we had chosen for our run turned out to be one of the warmest of the year.
The advantage of the good weather were the amazing views we were afforded along the way, the brutal hills out of Bath (where we started) gave us our first taster of the route and the scenery we could expect to see.
The views from the top of the escarpment above Bath were amazing but the temperatures made the climbs harder
Day 1 took us from the centre of Bath by the Abbey, to Tormarton and included a big climb out of Bath up to Lansdown then across through the village of Cold Aston, cutting across some A roads before finishing up in a lay-by near Tormarton. The first day wasn't too bad in terms of temperature and was the shortest run day at 15 miles.
Day 2 was Tormarton to Dursley and again included some big ascents and descents along the rolling Cotswold hills. The Cotswold Way has been set up to include the best views the route has to offer and we weren't disappointed, the last loop gave a fantastic view right over the Bristol channel - our total mileage for the day was 25 miles.
Day 3 was the longest and toughest day as far as I was concerned, it was also warm and I did have concerns about how the dogs would cope. However, we found that there were plenty of natural water stops and troughs for the dogs to cool down in. The down hills were as brutal as the up hills and I was glad I'd chosen to run each leg of the Cotswold Way with only one dog. We finished the 27 miles for that day with smiles on our faces at the top of Crickley Hill.
Day 4 took us from Crickley Hill along the top of another Cotswold escarpment, over Leckhampton Hill and then after a brief drop down into a valley, back up along the top of Cleeve Hill. The weather again was warm but we started early and finished by lunch time in the town of Winchcombe having completed another 20 miles.
Day 5, our final day, started leaving the town and up a hill (a recurring theme on this challenge) through lots of farmland and woodland until we reached our dog swapping point in Broadway. We were swapping dogs every day at a convenient point and were followed everywhere by our support team in vans with the other dogs. The hill out of Broadway was one of the toughest we encountered (just what you need on the last day!) but once at the top by the Broadway Tower, the rest of the route was downhill. So following a long, gentle downhill across more fields to the end of the Cotswold Way (or start if you choose), we arrived in Chipping Camden having completed another 19 miles.
So with a total of 106 miles done, all 106 by the humans and then sections by each of my 3 dogs, we finally finished our epic challenge and went home for a well-deserved rest! I wanted to say thanks to everyone who supported us and sponsored us, between Karen and I, we raised £1000 for charity which made the whole experience even more worth while.
The Maverick races are a series of tough trail races held across different counties throughout the year, they are "human" races which allow canicross entries.
NATB Claire, along with dog Jack decided to use the Surrey race as a training run for their upcoming marathon.
There are 3 distance options, due to the heat on the day they dropped to the middle distance of 16.5km.
The race started at the National Trusts Polesden Lacey House near Dorking. It was certainly warming up by the time the race started, hydration packs were a must and frequent stops were required to cool Jack down.
The course was very dry and the hills were immense, it felt like way more "ups" than "downs".
Jack ran really well, taking it easy due to the heat, we finished in a good time (considering the water stops) of 1.35, coming 1st Canicrosser and 6th female over all.
Congratulations, great effort :)
This weekend some of our member attended the BSA fun weekend, the final get together of the season :(
The BSA runs some of the best events of the season and have a regular following of NATBs who attend all of them.
Zara and Chris work tirelessly to ensure the season runs as smoothly as possible and the mushers from all clubs and groups tried to show how much they appreciate it by presenting them with some gifts to thank them for their work this weekend. Again the NATBs would like to express their thanks to them for the great work they do.
The fun weekend is exactly that, no pressure, just fun. Each morning we can run the dogs on the short 0.8mile easy flat course before the temps rise, which we do, they all love the short fast sprint and then the fact they can relax for the rest of the day.
There is a scurry competition, a Specialty and Fun dog show, the end of season presentation and the the famous Relay on the Sunday morning, this year the NATBs had 2 and a half (!) team entered out of 7 in total. The relay consists of the canicross leg, then a scooter, then the bike, only 1 dog can be used by each musher and the relay is in the order as detailed.
The NATB teams were -
Canicross - Roy Giles with Kavik
Scooter - Mark Bird with Basil
Bikejor - Mark Perry with Mya
Bubble, Toil and Trouble
Canicross - Emma Giles with Oki
Scooter - Maggie Bird with Kai
Bikejor - Petra Broadbelt with Diesel
Team Mucky Paws -
Canicross - Lindsay Pettit with Monty
Scooter - Chris Hannan with Loki
Bike - Melanie Sheehan with Marley
There was of course some good old competition going on and the final tally was -
Old Skool - 2nd
Bubble, Toil and Trouble 3rd
Team Mucky Paws - 5th
The end of season presentation saw 2 NATBs pick up awards from the Championship Points Table, these being -
DCM Mixed - 1st place with 147 points Dan Brown
Bikejor 2nd place with 90 points Mark Perry
Huge congratulations to both of them, very proud of you both.
Another amazing weekend which was dry, hot and thoroughly enjoyable, already looking forward to next season!!
Some of our most active members took part in an agility show this weekend, Team Sherwin are a force to be reckoned with and we are super proud of them - In Elaine's own words, their weekend was as below!
What a great weekend for the whole of Team Sherwin at High Peak agility! Fab show, venue & weather!!
Kiss : 3 grade 5 agility wins & a 2nd.... Grade 6 here she comes!
Gavin : grade 4 jumping win & 3rd in the ABC Crufts qualifier!
Bean : wins junior agility with Jonathan & 2X 4th places in Grade 7 agility
Daphne : 5th in ABC Crufts qualifier!
Goose : 3rd in grade 1 Jumping 🌟
I should think they are all exhausted after that but wow well done all!
Roxi and her amazing dogs are running long distances again and putting the rest of us to shame!
On the 23rd April they ran the Maverick 15miler which Roxi says is an amazing course and one she will gladly do again.
And then on the 1st May tackled the Three Forts Marathon which is 27 miles of hills, hills, and more hills!
Roxi deserves more than cake, she deserves a whole bakery!!
Super proud of you :)
A couple of weeks ago a few of the NATBs made the journey to Siblyback Lake in Cornwall for Canicross Cornwalls event "flat out on all paws ... The final lap"
The setting is stunning, the course is set around a lake, mostly flat and hardpack meaning some quick times for both wheels and runners.
The venue has fab facilities with electric hook up for camping and hot showers. Not forgetting the wonderful Cornish welcome with a party on Saturday night ... With a bit of karaoke thrown in.
A good time was had by all with some impressive times and we all went home with prizes and happy dogs.
1 dog Scooter
2 dog Canicross female
1 dog Canicross female
6th Nicole (Saturday only)
The NATBs will be keeping you up to date on their members, their dogs and events for the 2015/2016 Season. Hope you enjoy!