Today we start with our World Cup interviews. As we approach the build up, we thought it would be a great idea to talk to competitors from the many nations, and get their opinions. We will be talking to league members, Barklifers, and also those new to the knockout format. We want to know the tips, the tricks, the fears and the favourite features. Don't be surprised if we ask you !.

We start with who might be the maestro of the handicapped knockout. Mandy is the twice knockout champion of the LCC Cup. This is really defying the odds because each time the showdown was on the slimmest of margins with tough handicaps. (If we measured the winning margin it was less than 3 metres over 5km). If someone knows about 'digging deep' its Mandy. Here is what she had to say...

Q1. Hi Mandy, you managed to do something thought impossible which is to defend a handicapped canicross knockout. Before we get to the key questions all World Cup competitors want to know a few other questions...

So the first thing is what do you like about canicross ?

A1:  I like running with my dogs and find it very hard to go out without them! At the few races we have done I like the staggered starts….. it really feels like it’s you against yourself and I enjoy seeing other people just having fun with their dogs no matter how tall or small!! I was overtaken by a lady with a pair of Jack Russell’s once which is what is just brilliant about the sport!

Q2. So the next question is easy, what are the things you don't like about canicross ?

A2: I don’t like people who look down on others….. you always get it in sport! Someone once said ‘at least Dalmatians can probably manage running in a straight line!’ I was obviously highly offended!!!! Despite this though the lovely people definitely outweigh the bad! 

Q3. What are  your canicross ambitions for the future ?

A3: Canicross ambitions are probably to get out more often and actually get round to entering a real life race this year! It’s hard living in rural North Yorkshire finding something ‘local’.

Q4. OK.... to the inside information. What are tips that you would give World Cup competitors with things to avoid during the tournament ?

A4: Insider info….. don’t run straight after breakfast….. these World Cup max out runs often end in 🤮 whether you’ve eaten or not 🤪 Push yourself….. I have a definite ‘plod pace’ when I could actually go a lot faster! The more you push yourself the faster you improve on the short runs! I actually think fast 1k’s have improved my overall stamina. I run either daft o’clock early……. Or very late…… the general public slow you down, get in your way or think you are a nutter panting away looking like you are being abducted by your dogs! Avoid busy places! Double knot your laces….. it takes a surprisingly long time to retie them which is valuable seconds lost and your dogs might pull you over whilst tying them if they see a squirrel (true story!) which hurts both your pride and your body 😝

Q5. Do you think there are things you would advise World Cup competitors to do or to take note of, or do during the tournament?

A5:  I would advise you to approach it with an open mind….. I’m not super fast, I have a dog which doesn’t pull at all and one that does….. I am no ‘winner’ on paper and wouldn’t be in the top half finishers of a proper race, but I improved myself and that was enough to win against some awesome people! 

Q6. So, What is the secret to winning a knockout. You managed to do what is theoretically such a low probability. Is it a secret or a change in circumstances or something else ?

A6: The secret is……. I can’t tell you. Mainly because there isn’t one!!! Pot luck maybe 🤷‍♀️ and I ran as fast as I could till I was sick. Oh and I got a new dog that actually likes pulling me when running 😝

Q7. How would you describe the experience of competing in a tough knockout competition ?

A7:  It has helped me feel more confident about running and my own ability to progress even though I’m in the ‘middle aged category’ 😝 Plus I’ve been in the league since the start but it’s only the knockout comps that has allowed the banter to get going and I feel like I am actually part of the WLC community. It’s that which I’ve enjoyed more than anything…. Like you are making friends and people are rooting for you! I definitely felt I owed it to people I’d been up against to make it through right till the end.

Thanks Mandy. ...and if anyone is wondering what its like to go through a handicap knockout final.... A picture paints a thousand words !...