I always wanted to try something different with Roger since I know he can do way longer distances than the actual 5km canicross races. Since I am training under strong coach Ben Robinson, I thought I am ready fitness wise to try it out.
So here we are in a beautiful small village Ornica somewhere in the mountains. Actually it is in Province of Bergamo around 30km north from Bergamo. It is situated on 922m above sea level.
From 8am there was registration ready, we picked up our number 22 and I make sure I walked Roger a lot so he did all toilet that he needed. At 8.30am we could attend the vet control, all the vaccines check, Roger’s heart and joints but also the pads. Very nice vet who spoke something in Italian to Roger and that made him calmer as he doesnt like vet controls so much. He is only my dog and he likes to be touched only by me hahah
Anyways the start and finish line was in the middle of Ornica, which I find quiet interesting and it was just little bit of asphalt but thats ok. The start was going into narrow street and then we turn left into hilly or very steep trails. I thought this will be interesting as mass start.
Now that I have Roger 4 years and working hard with his behaviour, I know we are ok no matter what will happen. So my plan was to fire off with the fastest and stick to them as much as I could I knew first part was 3km uphill so it will be mentally hard.
9.20 am and we are ready around start line, I have been watching around other dogs and how well people keep them to each other since this is mass start and dogs know it is race time so all super hyper.
I sticked for Roger to front but to the side too. He is loving the mass start and barking away! Ah Roger save that energy.
Bark bark bark! I know he is in his element. 3,2,1…. and we are off. Oh narrow path, trouble…. dogs go for each other, I keep holding Roger close to me and just go through, dogs tried to lunge toward him, but my boy just wants to run and we passed them with Roger being 100% focused.
Off we go and run, oh I look up, this is steep. So I decided to power walk as much as I could, but oh well first 1km we still getting issues with other dogs lunging, Roger keeps going forward and he isnt bothered of any of that. He proved he is the right choice for chaotic ICF. Anyways on 1st km it was very narrow and a lot of people, but within more distance less and less people on trails, so I enjoyed time with my boy.
After 1.5km I feel like my legs are becoming jelly! I start to think what have I signed for. I stopped, I looked at Roger, he was happy to stop too. A quick breath and we are off again, power walking and Roger is going well on tight line way ahead and I feel he does help me. It was hard for him as steep and he needed to jump on stones or steps. We are going well and even manage to overtake some.
Oh Roger… He was smart, stopping for quick drinks at water and I could cool down with water my head too. It was very sunny even tho we were in shadow. So we mastered it and did stops at every fresh water.
Finally I can see the top, ohhh how nice organisers arrange a man with refreshments! Quick drink of sugary tea and water for me, cool down my head with water again, and quick drink for Roger and we are off. Oh I thought this is the top! Just few more steps up and we are there. Now the fun begins.
Little up and down single track trails and Roger is loving it, even tho we had a problem as ants were biting his back paws as we stopped I could see them between his pads. Poor boy, but he didnt want to stop, he was in his element. Up and down. Loving it.
Ohhh now time for the downhills! Well I never train anything like this with my dogs. So was happy I only had Roger on this trails as otherwise I would be face planting with Laferra. I grabbed line and called “easy”, Roger is sticking to my heels. Oh boy! When the flat was coming or less steep I was letting the lead go and called “let’s go” and Roger was back full speed. We did that all the way down. Super happy of my pro wee dog.
All the way down we were alone so it was great. We have passed some walkers but Roger just wanted to run and run. I love that dog, no matter what he works hard, and I know he probably hate few parts of that downhill due to fact he hates running on stones. He still kept going.
So we are back to Ornica, continue on a downhill and Roger knows it is finish, back on tight line with his tongue out he finish strong. It shows that we are doing everything right for the boy and he is fit to do canicross, bikejor, dog scooter or dog endurance long distance races! I feel very rewarding for running with Roger and I am happy that I will do even more races together.
Overall, a great day with our Italian friends, a great organisation. The trails were marked well and the refreshments on the way and at the end were awesome. We loved that everyone got finishers medal too (a very pretty one).