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Lali Masriera and Marcel Gual. Sports with your dog – canicross and bikejoring

Lali Masriera and Marcel Gual do canicross and bikejoring with their 8 dogs.

Lali Masriera has been Spanish Canicross champion several times, and Marcel Gual has been on the podium in various canicross and bikejoring events at the Catalan Championships.

Swipe Dog Racing Team is the canicross and bikejoring sports team which consists of Lali Masriera and Marcel Gual and their eight dogs.

The close relationship between dogs and humans began 11,000 years ago

According to recent scientific studies, the close relationship between dogs and humans started around 11,000 years ago. According to a study published in the journal Science, there is evidence that dogs were domesticated by humans just after the Ice Age. Eleven thousand years later, the bond between dogs and humans is so strong that we even play sports with them. Those sports include canicross and bikejoring.

This long history of ties between dogs and humans beings shows that dogs and humans have always arrived together at various places. Dogs have also always worked with humans in different ways: in activities such as hunting, as guides for police and firefighters, as sheepdogs on farms and in rural areas, as guides for the blind, watching over our homes, as therapists and even as working dogs.

There are eleven different dog sports

As a result of this close relationship between humans and dogs, and all the positives that this relationship brings, people have been involved in dog sports for many years. Eleven specific different types of dog sports have been created (Agility, Bikejoring, Canicross, Mushing, Swimming for dogs, Dog dancing, Doga, Dock jumping, Disc dog, Flyball and Rally Obedience).

Swipe Dog Racing Team, the sports family of Lali Masriera and Marcel Gual with their eight dogs

Lali Masriera and Marcel Gual form a family with their eight dogs (Gora, Cota, Zero, Rudy, Evo, Vodka, Daily and Hiskaforman), but at the same time, they are a true athletic team, the Swipe Dog Racing Team, and they train and compete with the dogs in bikejoring and canicross events. Watching the dogs run is a highly impressive spectacle.

Bikejoring is a type of mushing (sled racing on snowy surfaces pulled by dogs) and is becoming increasingly popular in Spain and worldwide. Its roots lie in snow sports, and its name comes from the English word “bike” and the Norwegian word “jor”, which means “driving”. This sport consists of riding a bicycle with the help of one or more dogs, who are tied to it and pull it along.

Canicross  consists of running with the dog tied to the runner’s waist by a harness. Canicross normally takes place on a dirt surface, although running on snow with snowshoes is also possible.

“I didn’t like to run”

Lali Masriera started doing canicross eleven years ago, and then took up bikejoring around four or five years ago. Lali didn’t like running, but her love for dogs convinced her to take up some type of sport with them, and it is now a sport in which she even competes: “I started looking for a way to use a harness to run with my first dog, trying to tire her out. And eleven years ago I found out that there were races you could compete in, which was fun for the dog and for you too. You get tired – we both get tired, and we both rest on the sofa. And the truth is that you build up a very nice relationship with the dog.” In fact, Lali and her dogs have been Spanish canicross champions (on land and on snow) for some years.

Marcel Gual, Lali Masriera’s partner, entered the world of dog sports after meeting Lali, who does canicross: “I came from the world of mountain duathlons. And she already had two dogs. She went running with one dog, and I started running with the other one. I couldn’t help getting hooked, because I really liked the synergy I had with the dog, and the joint effort you make together.” He does bikejoring in the “spring” format with routes ranging between four and seven kilometres long.

Marcel takes being a team with the dog very seriously: “there has to be a very strong bond and connection with the dog for him to understand you, and for you to know what he needs. The result partly depends on that communication.”

Lali Masriera has been Spanish Canicross champion several times, and Marcel Gual has been on the podium in various canicross and bikejoring events at the Catalan Championships.

Everyday life with dogs

As Lali Masriera points out: “For us, the dogs are our lives. Anyone who thinks otherwise is kidding themselves.” But as she admits, “I really, really like dogs. And obviously there are days when it’s tough, it’s cold, and you don’t feel like going for a walk with the dogs, or it’s raining or you’re tired, or you have a lot of work to do, but they need their walk every morning and afternoon, and it’s a become a lifestyle for us.”