Today's interview is with Al Mathers. Al has 2 dogs Erik a Border Collie & Daisy a GSD and is currently running in great form. Like a few of us, Al last year had to cope with Daisy having  cruciate surgery. But thanks in part to canicross as well as Al's care she is back to full speed and health. Al is a seasoned runner in cross country and orienteering disciplines who fell upon the sport of canicross about four years ago and has been hooked ever since. Regularly enjoying the open moors of North Yorkshire and Teesdale with Erik and Daisy.
Q1. So the first thing is what do you like about canicross ?
A1. The close bond it had created between myself and my dogs combined with the obvious sheer excitement it generates even just by bringing out their running harnesses, they automatically know it’s time for us to go and do something fun together.
Q2. So the next question is easy, what are the things you don't like about canicross ?
A2. The perceived negativity from people who know nothing of the sport who comment that it’s cheating and think in some way it’s an easier form of running! Or at the other end of the spectrum those seasoned canicrossers who take it all a little too seriously and loose sight of the fun aspect.
Q3. What are  your canicross ambitions for the future ?
A3. I enjoy helping others to experience the sport of canicross. Having recently completed a K9 First Aid course and regularly helping out on social runs I plan to complete an instructor/coach qualification to better my personal knowledge and to improve the experience I can offer others. I would also like to try the TDM in France (maybe one for next year).
Q4. What are your thoughts approaching our first World Cup, and competing at an international level ?
A4. Having competed in previous league knockouts I know what’s coming! So a mixture of excitement and nervousness, it will be a tough one this year but the handicap system will make it an interesting one that’s for sure.
Q5. What strategies do you think you will use during the tournament ?
A5. No strategy at all, we will just go for our run and do the best we can. If I’m not quite feeling it or the dogs are a bit off - who cares, we’re out there running through the forest and having fun that’s all that matters to me and I’m sure that’s all my two lunatics care about as well.
Q6. What do you think the secret is to winning a knockout ?
A6. Find a route that’s free from obstacles and at a time that’s free from interference (dogs & people) and above all run to the point of vomiting 🤢, then make sure that each subsequent run in the competition is equal to of greater in exertion - physical effort and mental strength will win!
Q7. How do you think you will prepare both mentally and physically for competing in a tough knockout competition ?
A7. Maintaining decent Hydration, conducting a good thorough warm up (human and dog) plenty of post run stretching and to remember that it’s only fun!
Q8. Are there other questions we should have asked that you would have liked us to ask ? If so what are they and what would be the answer(s)?
A8. What’s your favourite post run treat? Personally I love a cup of strong (builders) tea, and a “generous” handful of biscuits 😋 why not I’ve earned it!
The dogs get a couple of dried Sprats 🐟🐟