Autumn success prepares for winter championship
By Darren Lum
Published Nov. 17, 2016
Carnarvon’s Karen Koehler and her dogs earned their own treats days before Halloween at a recent autumn dog race championship in Bristol, Que.
Koehler, a veteran world class skijorer and dog racer, showed her quality at the seventh annual Bristol Dryland Canadian Championship Dog Race earning two top-three overall finishes from Oct. 28 to 30.
The 43-year-old was third with dogs Bundle and Oodle, both German short-haired pointers with one per cent greyhound, in the two-dog scooter and was the top female and third overall placer in the one-dog bikejor with Much, a German short-haired pointer with little more than 12 per cent greyhound.
The event drew some 30 teams competing in several events. It has been among her favourites since she first competed in it when it was started by Denis Rozon in 2010.
She had actually held the second fastest times in the first two races after the first day, but couldn’t hold her place on the second day. Normally she has used Bundle for the one-dog bikejor.
Both races included a 4.7 kilometre course. Competitors completed two runs, one each day and ended up with an accumulated time over two days for a final result.
Koehler earned her fourth first place finish for women in the bikejor at Bristol.
These results give her a confidence boost heading into the IFSS World Championship early this coming winter, which will be hosted in Haliburton County at the Haliburton Forest and Wild Life Reserve.
“A lot of the competitors I will compete against were there [at Bristol]. Last year, I won [nine] out of nine races. I placed first last winter,” she said. “I had a good winter so there is no reason not to be confident. It is always nice to know that you’re doing well again in the next season.”
Koehler adds “most of the time I beat all the guys too.”
She expects to compete in the one- and two-dog skijoring, polka, combined, combined polka skijoring and a relay event, which will be mainly for fun and include men and women.
In the past at Bristol she has won the one-dog scooter three times before dryland worlds last year, which she finished a disappointed 10th place. She did not compete this year because of a scheduling mistake, but didn’t bother correcting the mistake and decided to run all of her dogs. It enabled her to see how her young dog Much would fare in competition.
Although she finished ninth with Bundle in the veteran canicross race, which is cross-country running with a dog tethered to the person, it wasn’t disappointing because entering the race of 29 competitors she wanted to take easy and just have fun. There were two runs of 2.5 kilometres on the first day and then a 3.7 kilometres on the second day. She added the mixed field would prove difficult to finish well and she wanted to save her energy for the other races. A junior competitor ran with her “best dog” Oodle. They went on to win that race.
Koehler appreciates the competition, but loves the atmosphere of the event.
“It’s a really popular event. It tends to draw the top competitors as well as other competitors. There were some people competing in the canicross that were competing with pugs and chihuahuas. It was really cool. It was a really fun event and I think it is the one most people look forward to each year,” she said.