By Colin and Suzanne Spalding
We have just returned from the IFSS European sled dog championships held in Thetford Norfolk over 3 days with 17 nations 310 teams and 800 dogs taking part with teams from Finland, Czech Republic, Spain, Norway, Slovakia, Poland, Latvia, France, Germany, Belguim, Netherlands, Hungary, Switzerland, Andorra, Ireland and GB.
The European nations were very strong and posted some incredible times
We had 3 teams selected for Team GB which was a huge honour for our small team.
We travelled down on the Wednesday and on the Thursday had vet check, course inspections, team meetings and then the opening ceremony.
The course was a very fast 5k on a flat grassy trail with teams running in 8-dog, 6-dog, 4-dog, bikejor, 2-dog scooter and 1-dog scooter.
On the Friday I had 1-dog bikejor with Dexter, our 2 year old GSP in only his 3rd race he averaged 30km ph over the 5k course and placed 19th out of 29 and was first British team home.
On the Sat I had 3 teams to run and on the Sunday 2 teams our 2-dog scooter team was out first and only 14 min later our 1-dog scooter team was due to start. This was always going to be tight and as I crossed the finish line, I heard the race commentator announce “Colin Spalding – 40 seconds”
My team of helpers took off the 2 dogs, changed my number. I ran across to the start, attached Cupar with 10 secs to my start, with many of the European nations looking on in amazement.
Diamond and Granite ran really well to finish 5th in their class and Cupar our 8 year old GSP ran 2 good races to finish a very creditable 16th. I was really pleased and proud of how our teams ran in their first international race.
The standard of competition was extremely high and the professionalism of the European teams was amazing to see. The times of 8min 20 secs for a 5k bikejor and 12 min 36 secs for a 5k canicross are unheard of in the UK.
We would like to thank our sponsors CSJ for providing food and supplements for the dogs and also the support they give us and Galen Therapy Centre for their warm up and cool down treatments on the dogs.
We learned a huge amount from the weekend which will enable us to continue improving and are so proud to have been part of team GB.
Colin and Suzanne Spalding