THAT REALLY IS THE QUESTION
'For a timed run by any other name, is still a timed run'
I often chat with my clients about racing. Why? because I enjoy racing. I enjoy training for a purpose. I enjoy aiming for a goal and I enjoy seeing how I have progressed with my dog. They then seem to wonder why I don't just race at every race going within a set distance. The real reason? - I don't want to.
I enjoy racing and so does my dog, so I try to make sure that any races I pick are going to be fun and great opportunities for my dog to have fun with. There are considerations when looking at races and I'll try and cover my thoughts about these below.
Most races are held at weekends and usually for a placing - you need to race two days on the bounce. This is great, however as races can start from 0800, anything that is more than a one hour drive will involve me getting my dog up super early and then travelling two days on the bounce - that's four journeys by car with time and fuel to consider. Or I can stay at a local BnB or hotel - that is usually more expensive than driving, but also comes with consideration of food and staying away from home.
So for this reason - I look for races which are not too far away, unless I am prepared to stay over. As I work full time, I cannot get time off work - so this way I can choose races which won't clash.
Races are expensive! ultimately to race, you will pay anything from £30.00 upwards, but don't forget that to race you are expected to have appropriate insurance for this which does not come under your normal pet insurance. £30.00 is not a lot, but combined with fuel and or accommodation, this quickly turns a race into something that can cost around £70...
I choose races based on my experiences previously and also the experience I want to give my dog. If I am working on something specific, like large group passing, then I will choose races where there is some larger open areas where I can pass cleanly and without any fuss. That way my dog has a great experience and can succeed. If I race somewhere and feel that it is not a great opportunity for my dog, then I won't return, no matter what results I have there with her. Ultimately, my dog is my priority.
Why are we racing?
What is your why? why do you want to race? after all, a timed run is still a timed run, whether you do it alone or with a small group of friends.... or in a big group.
Do you have a goal - complete a 5k race, try your dog in a formal race environment, or are you wanting to race for results? If so there is nothing wrong with that at all, but be honest about it. Our dogs love running, they enjoy running in groups, but never has any dog refused to run because there isn't a timing chip attached to them...
I choose races according to my goals that year. A chance to place for National ranking, or perhaps to improve a previous time, or just for some fun... sometimes I will race 3 times, others I will race 7-8 times in a season. Each race has a purpose for me and my team...
What's your purpose?
Why do you want to race?
Do you really need to race every month? It is incredibly difficult to be at peak condition every four weeks for 6 months, so why not pick the races to aim for and go there fully prepared and organised to challenge your skills as a team...