IN PICTURES: Running with the pack

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The joy of bounding through the countryside with a faithful friend has become a fast growing sport across the UK.

And Bedfordshire is leading the way with its second competition weekend for runners and their hounds.

Canicross Midlands' returned to Box End Park

Canicross Midlands' returned to Box End Park

Canicross Midlands hosted the event at Box End Park, attracting nearly 200 competitors, some travelling as far as Yorkshire, Kent and Cornwall.

Organiser Claire Martin said: “Box End was a great venue with great facilities for our season opening event in September, so we scheduled in another weekend of racing here.

“The weather once more was ideal for our canine competitors and this resulted in two days of close competition across all the categories.”

Canicross has developed from the summer training techniques used for sled dogs in mainland Europe.

Competitors use a bungee-cord lead to attach one, or two, dogs to a waist belt and head off on a 5km or 1.5km course. Some choose to use a bike (bikejor) or scoot (scooter) around the course with a dog pulling in front.

At the Box End event, on December 5 and 6, the categories were divided into male and female competitors, and age ranges for the running competitors, but the ages are grouped together in the bikejor and scooter classes.

The adult competitors ran, biked or scooted around the 5km course.

Junior competitors (12-16 yr olds) and (8-12 yr olds) ran the shorter 1.5km course, with the 8-to-12-year-olds having an adult running alongside them.

The under 8’s, also accompanied by an adult run a shorter 700m course.

The event sponsor CSJ, provided the prizes for the top three finishers in each category at the results and prize giving on Sunday.

The Canicross Midlands weekend events are held at number of venues throughout the UK between September and March.