Neil Featherby: Why canicross is becoming increasingly popular

Norwich Canicross Runners

Having great fun canicrossing with the Norwich Canicross Runners - Credit: Jodie Causer

There is without a doubt lots of excitement amongst the running fraternity right now with planned racing becoming a reality again and, of course, for us at Sportlink the re-opening to the public again as of April 12. 

Running really has become so embraced by people who even just over a year ago and prior to the first lockdown had no inclination to put on a pair of running shoes and go out for a run. 

The truth is, those same new runners have continued to inspire others to have a go too, hence why we now see so many people at just about every hour of the day out there doing their own thing and having a go at this running lark. 

Those who know me well will also know how I love running with my dogs and have done so for years. Film maker Lee Blanchflower from Blanc Creative, even made a short film about running with my dogs last year.


Karen Grapes and Natalie Pannell out with the dogs on one of their ultra canicross runs - Credit: Natalie Pannell


However, ‘canicross’ as it is called is nothing new, with specialist clubs having existed for years whilst also organising races here in the UK and on the continent. What is new is the discovery by so many more people who perhaps just initially found it a good way to get themselves out there for some exercise whilst having a run with their dog.  

Even those who have been running for several years have more recently discovered just how great it is.  

One being Jodie Causer who is well known in local running circles with the work she has done with her club, Norwich Road Runners, and of course race organisation such as the very successful Ringland Half Marathon. Jodie used to work for us at Sportlink and I will never forget the first time I persuaded her to have a little run with my huskies. The sight was hilarious as she took off with a cry of “Neil, help, tell them to stop.” The staff were in fits of laughter. 

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Nevertheless, Jodie is now an avid canicrosser and has recently set up a new group called the Norwich Canicross Runners.  

She said: “Having realised just how popular running with your dog has become, there is nothing better than running with other likeminded people and their dogs too. The dogs absolutely love running in a pack alongside each other and it’s great for their social skills too.” 


Karen Grapes and Natalie Pannell out with the dogs on one of their ultra canicross runs - Credit: Natalie Pannell

They currently meet up in groups of six and are hoping to organise some beach runs very soon. There is a mixture of experience within the groups with of course the more seasoned members being able to further advise those who are new to canicross. Jodie herself has two Siberian Huskies albeit with her youngest Skye gradually being introduced to this super activity. 

Two other good friends of mine Natalie Pannell and Karen Grapes absolutely love getting out on the trails with Natalie’s rescued dogs. They think nothing of going out and doing a 50k ultra run. 

For anyone interested in finding out more then please do contact Jodie through her Norwich Canicross Runners Facebook group or indeed seek Sindy or Shafi Ratani out at Kisi Canine who have certainly helped me a heck of a lot over the years. 

Jodie Causer

Jodie Causer with her beloved Siberian Huskies Skye and Storm - Credit: Jodie Causer   

One final footnote for the week – well done to local athlete Eva Barton who raced at the East of England Showground last weekend smashing her 1-mile PB by 26 seconds, finishing in 5mins 22secs. It also currently puts her in number 1 spot in the girls Under 13 UK Rankings. 

Jodie Causer

Jodie Causer with her Husky Storm - Credit: Jodie Causer