Notchview Reservation to host canicross event with Hilltown Sleddogs

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Notchview Reservation has hosted its fair share of races throughout its illustrious history. On Oct. 14, Notchview will get a chance at a new first.

Hosted by Hilltown Sleddogs and owner/operator Marla "BB" Brodsky, Notchview will hold a 3-kilometer canicross race and a fun run.

What is canicross? Well, put simply: Canicross is defined as cross-country running you do with your dog attached.

"But you don't have to be an athlete to do this," Brodsky said in an interview with The Eagle. "You just have to want to attach to your dog, and go for a walk, a jog or a run."

The sport originated as an off-season training activity for the mushing community. It has since developed into a popular standalone sport across Europe, and is taking hold in the northern portions of New England. Now, Brodsky wants to introduce southern New England to an activity that she is passionate about.

"It's huge in Europe. It's becoming more popular in northern New England. There's a lot of races now that have canicross divisions," Brodsky said. "I want to bring it here to southern New England. You don't have to be a musher, you don't have to have a sled dog, you just have to have a dog that likes to move and you want to exercise with it, outdoors."

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The event will run from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Oct. 14, and feature much more than just the canicross race and the subsequent fun run. Registration will be for the first half-hour of the day — the canicross entry fee is $20, and the run is $10 — followed by a half-hour demonstration of dryland sled dog sports — including canicross — demonstrated by Brodsky and her Hilltown Sleddogs team. In addition to canicross, there are other dryland races for mushers, including Brodsky's specialty — rig racing. Rig racing is more akin to the traditional mushing that Brodsky trains her Alaskan huskies in, except instead of marching over snow, the dogs are pulling Brodsky and her sled across dirt and grass.

The canicross race will be at 12:30, the fun run will be at 1, and awards will follow. In between, there will also be food vendors on hand, musical acts performing, and vendors selling local wares along with canicross equipment.

"My background is in the music industry," Brodsky said. "I see it as a mini-festival. I would love to make it an annual thing. ... You can just come and be part of the day and have fun."

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Competitors need to bring just three things for the race: a leash, a walking harness for your dog, and a belt to wear around your waist — "like for your pants."

While the event is dog-centric, Brodsky is asking that only dogs who will race come to the event. Dogs should also be socialized, and not display aggressive and/or shy tendencies. Dogs must remain leashed throughout the event.

The event will go on rain or shine. Should it rain on the day, some of the activities will move inside at Notchview.

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Brodsky also said, in an effort to make sure everyone enjoys themselves, the canicross race will be "tiered" based on skill — i.e., faster runners will start first, followed by everyone else. The event will be a mass start. Prizes will be given to winners.

Brodsky, in addition to getting the word out about canicross, also wants to show off what Hilltown Sleddogs is doing. Brodsky has 22 Alaskan huskies in her kennel, and her and her team compete in rig, bike, scooter and canicross races in the fall, and in the winter they race mid-distance on sleds. Hilltown Sleddogs doesn't just race, though — Brodsky and her team give rides and lessons, host camps, and give tours. Hilltown Sleddogs is located in West Chesterfield.

With so much going on at the moment, Brodsky said that time has been a precious commodity for her lately. She's hopeful, though, that all of the work will pay off with a successful event.

"At this time, I'm kind of like, I just hope it's going to be — I hope people show up, because I know they will love it," Brodsky said.

For more on the race, or on Hilltown Sleddogs, contact Brodsky at 413-296-0187 or hilltownsleddogs@gmail.com, or visit www.hilltownsleddogs.com.

Geoff Smith can be reached at gsmith@berkshireeagle.com, @GSmith_Eagle on Twitter and 413-496-6254.


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