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Sleepless Runs at Moosalamoo

I was never a runner, until I got my dog, Winston. I randomly decided that he was bored and wanted a job, so we started running. Half mile by half mile, we were hooked. It became my favorite way to start my day. We signed up for a couple 5Ks and rocked it. And then wanted more. Boldly, I decided that we needed some longer races to change up our pace. I found a rare dog-friendly 14 mile trail race up in Goshen, VT.

We prepped, running some longer-ish runs. Our longest route was only 9 miles. I hoped we could maybe just handle the last 5 miles if I didn’t think about it. The day before the race, I distracted myself from this fact by gear prepping. Buying and collecting gear is a passion. I made sure I had my hydration vest, water bladder, and assorted collapsible flasks. Winston’s gear was just as complex. He had his canicross harness, bungee line, canicross belt, and collapsible bowl.

The night before was rough. I had pre-run jitters which were made worse by a pack of coyotes howling in the distance. Winston decided the best method of survival was to whimper like a hurt animal, leaving me wondering if coyotes could easily break through the flimsy tent walls.

In the morning, I was completely exhausted and nervous. We gathered with our Kurgo running teammates who all seemed way more calm and prepared about this thing. We lined up at the start, and my dog started letting everyone know he was ready to go with his beagle “aroo”. The start line is always the hardest part, as I knew we couldn’t peel off at our usual sprint and I also didn’t want the wild man to take out runners.

About six miles in, we were completely alone. Too fast for the casual runners, but way too slow for the seasoned trail runners. For the next couple of miles, Winston and I both second guessed the navigational skills of our team, despite the frequent markers to show we were indeed on track. We reached the top of the mountain ridge where some animal had recently been. Winston’s back hair rose and he took off at a sprint desperate to find whatever was lurking. I wanted to slowly enjoy the view from the top, but the pace is never mine to set.

Thankfully we eventually caught up to some other runners just in time for me to slide down a wet rock face. Embarrassment aside, catching up to these people sparked Winston’s competitive side. Casually running through the woods by ourselves, he had totally forgotten this was a race. He was in full chase mode from this point on, only stopping when the aid station volunteers offered him a cheese sandwich. Food always outweighs competition, of course.

I’m not one for setting a goal until I know it is achievable, but I realized we could finish this thing in under three hours. We had fast runners to follow and there were only two miles left. Eyes glued to my pace watch, I tried to keep my legs moving as fast as my dog wanted to go.

My watch hit 13.9 miles. then 14.0, then 14.1. The finish line was not in sight. Finally at 14.2 we came out of the woods by the Blueberry Hill Inn where the finished runners and spectators were clapping. Winston, thinking all applause is for him, raced to the finish line to revel in the praise of his fans. 2:59:36 was our finishing time, barely making that goal I set mid run.

-Marie R, BDA member, Canicross enthusiast

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