UAE to host first off-road race for dogs and their owners

Six-kilometre event will take place on February 12 at Hatta Wadi Hub

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The first off-road race for dogs and their owners in the UAE will get under way next month, with participants competing for the chance to win free food for three months.

Canicross is a popular event worldwide that sees pet owners running long distances with their canine companions.

The six-kilometre race will take place on February 12, in Hatta Wadi Hub.

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Most of all, this is a fun event and the dogs find it challenging but it is hugely rewarding
Hussain Darwish, K9 Challenge

The event is the brainchild of Omani Hussain Darwish, 37, who set up the K9 Challenge series of hiking events across the country to encourage more people to get out into the great outdoors with their dogs.

“Some people run as fast as possible and treat it as a race, others take a more leisurely pace and enjoy their surroundings,” said Mr Darwish, an entrepreneur who lives and works in Dubai.

“We decided to start with a 6km route to see how people cope, but usually the dogs have plenty of energy and it is the humans who tire out first.

“Finding something for people to do with their dogs is very important, as the animals often have plenty of energy and need to burn it off.”

Organisers are currently finalising a route that will combine spectacular mountain views with sand, rock and water. Details are expected to be confirmed next week.

Around 100 people are expected to take part.

The event will be marshalled and clearly marked out, so there is no chance of getting lost.

The race is suitable for all breeds of dogs, as long as their behaviour is not aggressive towards other dogs and people.

Mr Darwish has four dogs who he regularly runs with and said combined events are a great way for owners to bond with their pets.

“I have a German Shepherd, a Belgian Malinois, greyhound and a mix - they are all rescue dogs and love running with me,” he said.

“People take these events seriously and we have seen people getting into training with their dogs already.

“Most of all this is a fun event and the dogs find it challenging but it is hugely rewarding.

“If you have a dog, you don’t have to run alone, and they usually love it.”

For more information or to register for the event visit the K9 Challenge website.

Updated: February 16, 2022, 9:24 PM
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