Our member Helene decided to take on the Paras 10 and below is her account - huge huge kudos to you Helene!!
Paras 10 I've wanted to do the Paras10 Endurance race for a couple of years but a mix of poor organisation and lack of confidence stopped me doing so.
Anyway this year I thought no excuse. I emailed the organisers to ask if more than one dog could run as I would have liked to do it with my 3 Springers. But they advised only one due to the terrain or possibly 2 at a push. That made an easy decision as I didn't want to leave one of the Springer siblings out so chose to run with just one dog and it had to be my lead dog Rowan.
I knew with the words paras and endurance in the title it was going to be a challenge so we did as much training as we could on hills which is hard living in Manchester but thank goodness for the National Trust estates we frequent!
So on the 3rd September Rowan and I headed off to Catterick, as expected for a military event it was extremely well organised from the minute we arrived for parking. Rowan proved a hit with the Paras and lapped up the attention. They asked all the canicrossers to start at the front which was great as this is often an issue with mixed races as the dogs start fast and starting from the back is difficult. Rowan was raring to go and at the sound of the start we were off ahead of the pack Rowan pulling at his usual incredible speed.
For the first mile we were in 3rd place overall but there was no way I could keep that pace and then we arrived at the first cattle grid of approximately 30 where we had to slow down and although he was able to tiptoe over them I could see it was risky and so elected to carry him over any others.
The course was amazing, it varied between mostly wide open spaces with lots of hills and great views and lots of sheep, one part there had old tanks there which made a fascinating change of scenery, and there was also a lovely woodland section to run through. The hills varied from gradual ascents to steeper sections and obviously lots of downhill sections too which for me is always the most tricky part. Rowan is a wonderful dog for canicross his directions are superb and his ability to navigate a course with little input from me is wonderful but steady on the downhill is not his forte! I usually have to rely on his sisters adhering to "steady" to safely descend but the boy proved that he does know steady and this was proved time and again and nowhere more so than the steepest descent we've ever done. As we got past the 8 mile marker I saw a really steep hill ahead of us, what I didn't see til I turned the corner was the steep cliff like hill of equal height we needed to descend first. It was practically vertical in places and just rock to clamber over and my heart was in my mouth as I kept saying steady as one pull on the rope and I would have fallen face first many metres! Not once did he pull, absolutely steady the whole way down a complete star! We had level ground for about 1metre and then the steepest hill to climb. My muscles were not just burning they were completely on fire, Rowan pulled great and kept up the momentum but by the top my screaming legs could barely run but off we went at Rowan's speed.
Next up was 3 water crossings which were great fun as we splashed through them, cooling for both of us and we had the last mile to go. Mostly flatish but still a few cattle grids to go with aching abs and arms I managed to carry Rowan over and finally it was the sprint to home.
Absolutely thrilled to be finished, more thrilled to be the 1st Female Canicrosser and then to get our medals from veteran paratroopers was the absolute icing on the cake.
It was a brilliant race I was delighted with my time of 1:32:32 as the cattle grids severely slowed us down, and definitely doing it again as it was so much fun. I'm also planning on the Colchester one which I am informed has no cattle grids and less hills!
Brilliant family event too with stuff for kid, food stalls and a number of stall selling Paras merchandise, and raising money for a worthy cause. Highly recommend it.
The NATBs will be keeping you up to date on their members, their dogs and events for the 2015/2016 Season. Hope you enjoy!