International Agility Championship . . . The First Time All Over Again

I just got home from my participating in my second WAO (World Agility Open) event held in Oviedo, Spain. Some consider this one of the four “world championship” type agility events; FCI in October, European Open in July, WAO in May and IFCS held every other year.

This is my second year competing at WAO (doing so in 2010 as well). It is my 12th trip like this to a “World Championship” and 11th trip to Europe for such an event over the years. It all started back in 2004 with my first IFCS trip, which coincidentally was also to Spain.

I love Spain!  The culture and history is amazing. John and I traveled with our friends, John and Lynda Hill, and took a few days prior to the competition for some relaxing and sightseeing.

Here are a couple of pics taken in Segovia, where they have this amazing Aquaduct built by the Romans in what is estimated to be 1 AD.

Susan Garrett trip to WAO - Aqueduct in Segovia

Aqueduct in Segovia, Spain

Our hotel was just gorgeous and the weather was beautiful…it was a perfect way to start our time in Spain.

Susan Garrett & Family in Spain

John, Feature and I at our hotel in Spain

By the time we got to Oviedo where the WAO competition was being held, the weather turned on us. Bitter cold and non stop raining was not what I had hoped for but the positive spin I kept telling myself was it was a great test of my focus and mental prep for competition.

The event had us run two runs outside and one run inside each half day on the first day for a total of 6 runs. On day two the weather had gotten so miserable that they moved everything inside for the afternoon and that is where we stayed, warm and dry . . . well at least dry (the temperature was dipping below 10 C (in the 40s F) during the later runs of the competition . . . and those runs were later! We left the hotel every day at 6:30 AM and our last run of the day on Saturday was 9:30 PM at night.

Susan Garrett & Feature running weave poles at WAO

Feature and I Running Weave Poles at WAO

Susan Garrett and Feature on the Teeter

Feature vs. the Teeter

 

Susan Garrett & Feature Doing A Victory Lap

Feature and I Doing A Victory Lap!

 

Susan Garrett and Feature take first!

Feature and I celebrating!

Yet another test of your competitor preparation; did you plan your nutritional needs and can you function at your best on very little sleep? In bed at 11:30 every night and up again at 5:00 to get ready for the day.

Yes there were a LOT of sick competitors by the end of it all; I am pleased to say I was not one of them. Being a vegan, I am used to planning my meals away from home before I ever leave home so my nutrition was top notch throughout the entire time away.

In spite of the poor weather and lack of sleep, I had an amazing time in Spain. Loved it.  From our wonderfully relaxing vacation to the chance to run at yet another “big agility event,” the whole week was a thumbs up for me.

Although I am not new to the sport or new to big competitions I was really looking forward to this event for a number of reasons:

  1. I enjoyed the format and courses at the 2010 WAO looked forward to coming back.
  2. I have hired more staff here at Say Yes, so I have been able to push away from the computer more frequently which has resulted in me improving my own fitness level.
  3. This would be the first “big” agility competition for me to run with my new handling style and I was really looking forward to testing it out on the more challenging European type courses.

So for me even though it wasn’t my first, it was very much like a first on many levels.

Over the next few blog posts I will roll out video of my runs from Spain. I will start today with my five runs form the Individual Pentathlon event. Here competitors hope to run five classes; two standard agility, two jumpers and one “Speedstakes” which is like standard agility but without a seesaw or dogwalk. I say “hope” to run 5 runs because the competition gets pared down as the event rolls on. There is a “cut” after rounds 2 and 4, taking the numbers down to just the top 18 dogs for the final round.

Feature and I had a magical weekend together. I felt it was one of my best weekends as a handler and one of her best as a performer . . . hmmmmm I wonder if there is a connection there?  Not that I don’t think we have done great at events in the past, it is just this weekend I felt a consistency in our connection together I haven’t felt before.

Here are our five pentathlon runs from the weekend:

 

Today I am grateful for the amazing Management team that organized and took care of us all in Spain. With a 23 year old coach and a staff of 4 managers none of which had ever been to a World Championship; you would think it would be a recipe for mayhem . . . but it was quite the opposite. One of the best run, best organized most cohesive group of people that I have ever had the pleasure of working with during my 20 year career in agility. My sincere thanks to: Justine Davenport, Paula Collins, Stephanie Taillefer and Tamara Hauglum; you ladies made the event something really special for our entire Canadian team.

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