“We’re off to checkers” was the clamour on the Checkendon Facebook group. I had no idea why everyone was getting so excited?
Checkendon was advertised as a canicross / bikejor and scooter event and had sold out very early on. I was lucky enough to get in on a cancellation and am so pleased I did!
Benny and I have only just got into canicross and I have to say I think it’s our new thing. We’ve done a couple of fun runs together and thoroughly enjoyed it but this was our first canicross ‘proper’.
My eyes widened as we arrived … this was serious! These were canicross / bikejor fanatics! There were numerous campervans and mini camps all with dog pens attached. Packs of huskies sat patiently observing their humans who were busy tinkering with the scooters or bikes.
I have to admit I felt a little out of my league. I’d never run a proper canicross and here I was surrounded by pros! Still – everyone started somewhere I reminded myself!
Jan’s Cafe van was the focal point so I settled my team on the two stools with a burger and hot dog whilst I went to find out what to do.
A table was set out near the start with a folder in it … and in the folder were numbers all named! Ok – it’s a self serve I thought as I scanned the list for my number?
I remember reading the instructions carefully and knew that we start in numerical order but where was my number? As I checked again, I realised I was actually top of the list … number one! OMG! I had to go first!
Although I appear to be quite confident it’s all just a lie … and here I was … number 1. So now, I have all the canicross runners watching me … waiting to find out where we start and when we start. People were starting to line up behind me! Arghhhhh! I had no idea! Too late to run and hide!
‘Well Benny – since everyone is watching us let’s be on our best behaviour’ I whispered to him! I couldn’t have been more proud of him. Despite being beyond excited he sat calmly waiting for the off!
Roy spotted me – and with a big grin said ‘you don’t have to go first – the fastest lady does the course in about 16mins so I can slot you in further down? I must have looked so relieved because Roy really did laugh out loud! Lol
‘If I slot you in after number 29 – he hopes to do the course under 30mins – what’s your time?’
‘Erm … I’ve never actually ran a 5k with the dog? I have no idea!’ Roy smiled kindly and immediately took me under his wing telling me where to wait and what to do.
As I looked around, I realised that the pros weren’t so scary after all. In fact, most of them were dressed as ghosts or zombies and were laughing and chatting with each other. Number 29 was a very friendly Count Dracula (I think) And as everyone got in line, the excited howls of the dogs became deafening. Listen to the video and see if you can hear the numbers being called!
‘Ok – get ready now’ said Roy and Benny and I calmly walked forward. ‘Oh I’m so glad you made it’ said Jan as I stood nervously at the start. Can you believe with all the people here that she remembered who I was?
I was in the process of thanking her when she said go and Benny, with his competitive let’s win attitude set off at a gallop dragging me behind him!
As we rounded the first corner we came face to face with a photographer from Basil Thornton Photography … and it was just at that moment that Benny decided he wasn’t quite ready and needed to relieve himself! Typical!
However, we were then able to settle down into a steady pace. The course was brilliant with loads of twists and turns through the spectacularly colourful autumn forest. Benny led the way with ease loving every minute of the run.
The only down side was that there were loads of tree roots and stumps which terrified me. I had to tip toe slowly through them all too scared to get any decent speed up for fear of falling. Although, and I know you won’t believe this, but they were clearly marked as Jan and Dave had made sure everyone of the hazards was painted bright yellow!
A couple of amazing ladies sped past me and Benny and I moved to one side so as not to hinder their progress. Benny was obviously deeply embarrassed and threw disapproving looks to me and apologetic looks to his fellow furry competitors!
As we grew more confident, we increased our pace. The course just kept getting better and better with a great mix of pathways, tracks and fields. We were loving it! Benny was amazing! I was amazing! We felt great and looked great.
Hold on … what’s that saying? Pride comes before a fall? There was a lovely straight through the forest about 1.5k from the end and feeling on top form we started to stretch out our pace. Just then, one wrong step saw my ankle topple over and I came crashing down! Poor Benny who was in a steady canter came to a sudden jolting stop!
The pain was unbearable! I dragged myself to the side and had a little cry not knowing what on earth to do as I was in the middle of no where. Someone ran past and asked if it was ok but I didn’t want to spoil anyone’s run! So I pulled up my big girl pants and tried to walk a little. My plan was to walk to get help.
After about 100m I felt a little better so I tried a very gentle jog. Ahead was a sign which said 1km and my heart sank! If we had only done 1k there was no way I could do another 4K.
With my mind made up I decided I would jog on until I found a marshal to help or saw a 2k sign in which case I would plonk myself down next to it and wait for help. But as I continued slow jogging my ankle felt much better. A marshal was ahead and I considered stopping but she was already dealing with another lady who had done the same!
I could see the cars and finish line through the trees so I decided to grin and bear it and just run on. The forest opened onto the field and the finish line lay ahead. My little boy was cheering and the robster was whistling. Benny was so proud and happy and I couldn’t let any of them down so I gave it all I had to sprint finish!
And then collapsed in a heap! My ankle instantly blew up like a balloon with ugly black bruising. I didn’t know what to do – I was over the moon at having taken part. It’s one of the best things have ever done and I was dying to tell someone but at the same time I couldn’t walk and was in so much pain.
Anyway, we left and the robster went into doctor mode administering PRICE and double gin and tonics!
So, why was everyone getting excited about Checkers? Well, it’s because it is a great course, with fantastic people who all love what they do, love their dogs and are beyond supportive and generous to newbies like me!
I will definitely be going again next year if they’ll have me. It really is one of the best events I have ever done.
Well done Jan and Dave and everyone else involved.
Ice, elevation, painkillers, compression, more ice (mainly for the g&t’s) and rest. I did this for three days and then honked around before eventually going making it to a physio a week later. The swelling has subsided a little and so the physio said as it was a grade one I needed to keep the ankle moving.
She has given me exercises … calf stretches, ankle raises and walking rolling heel to toe. She said it will hurt but to persevere and continue strengthening.
Next week she even says I can run my Mark Pollock Run in the Dark 5k. It will be painful but as long as I take it slow I won’t do any damage and will only help strengthen the tendon again! Woohoo! I can’t wait! Only downside is I’ve lost my excuse for eating chocolate crispy cake!
Please – if anyone twists their ankle – do go and see a good physio! Everyone’s injury is different. It makes the world of difference to your physical and mental outlook! Thanks Jon Cooke Physiotherapy.