A big reason why I started this show was to find new and unique things in San Diego. So when Canicross San Diego reached out to me I figured I had to try it. Despite not being a morning person, I met up with Kat Hammond and her group one morning to try Canicross. Just Off the 56 in Rancho Penasquitos:
Bern McGovern (BM): All right guys, Bern McGovern back here again on Off the 56. Today we are at Canyonside Park where we’re going to be interviewing Kat Hammond, the owner and operator of the meetup group, Canicross San Diego. Kat, can you tell us what Canicross San Diego is all about?
Kat Hammond (KH): Caincross is a sport that originated in Europe from sled dog sporting. Basically you remove the sled and the sixteen dogs and you actually attach the dog to yourself. You typically do a 5k at a full sprint with your dog pulling you along in sort of a team effort run.
While you’re on the trails you teach your dog commands so it’s easier for you guys to go through single or double tracks while running at a faster pace.
BM: What was the big reason you started this group in San Diego?
KH: I saw the sport on a cross agility competition on Youtube. I was surprised when I saw it because I was already doing it with my current dog. But I didn’t have the proper harness, I just ran with the leash around my shoulders. I fell in love with the sport when I saw it so I figured there’s got to be people in San Diego that love their dogs, love to run, and would love to combine those two loves together and go out together as a group to run.
Though getting them out early in the morning can be tough! People tend to prefer afternoons.
BM: I can see that. How many different trails do you guys do throughout the area?
KH: A lot. We run here in Los Peñasquitos Canyon a lot. We’ve done Duck Pond, off Santa Monica Road near the 56. We’ve also gone out to Lake Hodges, Black Mountain, Iron Mountain, and even Laguna Mountain where there’s a national forest area.
BM: So you guys go all over!
KH: Yeah! And in February 2019, we’ll be doing our first dedicated Canicross race on the San Pasqual Valley Mule Trail. It’ll be a 5k and we’re hoping to maybe push for a 10k as well.
BM: Wow! For someone who is not familiar with the sport, what’s the first thing they should do? Talk to you, maybe?
KH: Yes, please! You can email me [email in video] and we can talk about gear, which is really the first thing. The biggest thing is setting your dog up with the proper running harness so it doesn’t affect the way they breathe, their shoulders, their hips, stuff like that. Then we’ll set you up with the Canicross belt, which allows for the dog to pull you forward without pulling you over. My partner, Deborah Vande Berg and I, run Canicross Country and we sell this gear. We’d love for more people to join our group, so please come out and try Canicross!
I really enjoyed my workout with Canicross San Diego – it was definitely challenging, but a lot of fun! If you are looking for a unique way to get fit with your dog, contact Kat or visit their Meetup Group page here. You can also join their group on Facebook. Canicross San Diego also does CaniTrail which is very similar to Canicross, it just involves a longer trail run (usually 5+ miles).
I also learned from Kat that dogs of any breed or size can do Canicross. Though the sport is great for those larger dogs with lots of energy (like huskies and shepherds), smaller dogs also have a great time running the trails. And humans of any skill level or endurance are welcome! Kat says it’s always ok to walk 🙂
Check out the video above to see some footage of Canicross in action! Ff there are other cool things in San Diego you’d like me to check out on Off the 56, drop me a line and let me know!