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Dog owners take their pooches on 5km and 10km races at Thetford in cani-cross event

PUBLISHED: 16:31 24 January 2016 | UPDATED: 18:17 24 January 2016

'Fido's Forest Frenzy' - a cani-cross event in Thetford Forest.

'Fido's Forest Frenzy' - a cani-cross event in Thetford Forest.

Nearly 80 people – and even more dogs – set off from Thetford Rugby Club on Saturday for 5km and 10km races with a difference.

The Fido’s Forest Frenzy cani-cross event saw competitors race off over one of the two distance with their pooches’ leads strapped to their waists.

The activity developed among the sledding community as a way of keeping dogs active when they were not pulling sleds.

Now it is both a social and competitive past time for dog owners wanting to enjoy the fresh air with their pets.

Gill Walker, treasurer of Kings Forest Cani-Cross which organised the event, said since being set up in 2014 the group’s sessions in Suffolk have really taken off.

“We have got about 30 paid up members,” she explained. “We didn’t predict how popular this was going to be. We were really amazed.”

The races this weekend, the first competitive events run by the group, saw 77 runners take part with 88 dogs – some owners doubling up their canine companions.

“There were some spectacular times,” Mrs Walker added. “People get quite competitive. When they get in the race mode it’s very competitive.

“We had runners who came from the Peak District, the Midlands and Kent.”

Talking about the regular sessions, on weekend mornings and Monday evenings, which gave rise to the race event, Mrs Walker said: “It’s a very social thing. It’s such a great way to exercise your dogs.

“It’s social for dogs and for us and we just go out and enjoy the fresh air and getting fitter.”

There are now plans to make the races an annual occasion said Mrs Walker, who runs the club with friends Sarah Connell (chairman) and Justina Smith (secretary).

She added the feedback from both runners and marshals who help supervise the course had been fantastic and how pleasing it was to see people had enjoyed taking part.

Mrs Walker also thanked Martin Rendle of race organisers Dunerunner for helping set up the event and everyone who took part.

Search Kings Forest Cani-Cross for more information about the group.

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