This past week the US has been celebrating Walk your Dog week – a national event that aims to bring awareness to canine behaviour issues and canine obesity in America. Although my dog and I are based in Australia we’re not that far removed from the increasing problems that the US dogs are experiencing. And it seems that I’ve stumbled across the perfect event that could help dogs and their owners fight this battle…..
On an early Saturday morning I found myself down at the Cairns Esplanade with dog and kids in tow, attending a locally organised Parkrun event. Canine running is not normally my first choice of exercise (unless of course my dog is running beside me as I cycle) but it was Parkrun’s 9th Birthday and I’m a sucker for birthday celebrations of any sort.
Parkrun is a free worldwide event held weekly, with 5km timed runs that are open to everyone (and their dogs) – it’s just a matter of registering prior and rocking up with your barcode. Parkrun started up nine years ago in a London suburb and now spans five continents but essentially it remains a run, not a race. The social side is just as important as the fitness benefits and there is always the opportunity to share a coffee afterwards with the runners.
What impressed me was the ease at being involved in a Parkrun event. Once you get a barcode (via registering only once beforehand) you can rock up at any event anywhere in the world. All your details of your run is recorded and at the end you get direct feedback on how you performed on the day (emailed to you only a few hours later). These are great facts and figures for people that want to keep a record of how their level of fitness is going.
I have to admit though it was hard for me that morning. Canine running is Scooter’s forte but I’m not overly keen on the running side of things myself. This is why Bike riding suits us so well. Running a 5km course was quite hard work for me (despite being reasonably fit from my daily cycles) and I’m still hurting 2-days on. It was definitely a different form of exercise for me!
PLUS the kids decided that they were going to run the course as well! Why I didn’t insist that they stuck to the scooters that were packed in ready to go I don’t know. Needless to say we had several meltdowns and performances en-route (including me) when they realised how far it really was. Fortunately the course looped back upon itself and I was able to leave them in a safe spot as Scooter and I continued our canine running effort.
On a whole though I believe this would be the perfect weekly event for a group of dog-walkers to regularly participate in. Even though it’s called Parkrun there is no pressure to ‘run’ the course. Walkers (and dogs) are more than welcome. Each week you receive a breakdown on how you’ve performed, and your kilometres and results culminate over time. It would also be the perfect opportunity for a ‘foster/adopt’ shelter to get involved, advertising their dogs through walking them and benefiting from the act of socialising and getting them out meeting other dogs and people.
I’d be keen to meet up on a regular basis at Parkrun with other dog owners in the Cairns region. Although I think there would be some strict conditions involved – no canine running (well at least not for me) and all children must have a set of wheels to help them around the course!
Ultimately, if you’re looking for a regular ‘Walk your Dog’ or Canine Running event in your local neighbourhood then Parkrun might be the perfect solution. It’s free, regular, social, allows dogs to attend and you get a breakdown of all your results each time you finish the course. What better way to shake those extra kilos and enjoy some time outdoors with your dog.
Do you enjoy canine running? Have you tried Parkrun or been involved in a similar event?
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