Dogs and their human best friends are training to test their mettle in an event unique to Vancouver Island.
The 2014 TriRuff K9 Xterra, a triathlon event, happens at Westwood Lake Oct. 4 when dog/owner teams take to an 18-kilometre cross-country course featuring mountain bike, run and swim stages.
“We mountain bike 12 km up Mount Benson, up behind the lake,” said Del Beaulac, event coordinator and participant. “We do a 300-metre swim and then when you finish the swim, you do the 6 km trail around Westwood.”
It’s all done with a dog on-leash.
There is no restriction as to the kind of dog – any breed from teacup chihuahua to Great Dane is welcome – but all participating dogs must be between the ages of two and 10 and in good health. Dogs must also submit to checkups by veterinarians before and after the event and at checkpoints along the way to make sure the dogs are not injured or stressed. There are also mandatory timed rest stops.
The Xterra is not a race. Teams are started three minutes apart and are up against the clock to log the best time around the course.
“It’s more of an endurance race and not a speed race,” Beaulac said. “It’s a matter of finishing, not so much how fast you finish, although some people work on their personal bests. Personally, I just flop over the finish line and be grateful that I actually finished.”
Last year people in their 20s to mid 60s participated. Beaulac, 60, said she only learned how to mountain bike while training for the the 2013 event. Beaulac said the toughest part of training was learning to ride with a dog on a leash.
“A lot of people are worried that it’s too hard for them,” Beaulac said. “It kind of promotes getting in shape. A lot of people run with their dogs, a lot of people bike with their dogs, but it’s not beyond the average person to complete.”
Just seven teams turned out for the first running of the event last year, but Beaulac said there is space for up to 30 teams.
For more information or to register, please visit the event website at http://triruff.webs.com.