“He Was My Depleting Power” – Cross-country Race with Guide Gog

Five people with guide dogs of the Baráthegyi Guide Dog School, stood at the start-line this weekend at the HDR Not Just Run competition. This day was about the challenge, the pleasure of moving together and about solidarity for the visually impaired runners. The guide dogs proved again that they are able to take care of their owners while country-cross running, the same way as they would walk in the city traffic.

The guide dogs of our Foundation competed second time in the Hard Dog Race coutry-cross running, and proved again that the are able to take care of the steps of their visually impaired owners in any situation. They are devoted companions not only during
everyday traffic but they can guide perfectly even on a motocross track, which means a great challenge.

“It is not easy to get over the Piliscsév motocross track even by walking, and it is a real challenge by running for the runners who can see as well. These five visually impaired girls, by trusting in their guide dogs, with sufficient determination and will, they do not know the impossible. Participating in this competition was a huge experience for them, they performed excellently, and we are proud of all of them” – said Emese Királyné Barkóczi, the trainer of the Baráthegyi Guide Dog School, the organiser of the running team of the Foundation.

It was hard to overcome the 5,71 kilometres-long track with 155 metres level difference, due to its terrain condition. The road had no edge at the narrow paths, and there, the only way of running if the visually impaired person let the dog run in front of her. Luckily, this situation did not surprise them, because, for example, in the city, they walk on the stairs the same way with their dogs, when crowded people come across them. It was a special challenge for the guide dogs, that they had to concentrate on the uneven
surface, the roots sticking out of the ground and on avoiding the tree stumps meanwhile running.

Physical Trial and Intellectual Challange

Beside physical strain, it meant intellectual challenge for the visually impaired runners as they had to concentrate on the signals of their dogs and the information given by their helpmates, and on top of all, to move at an appropriate pace. Thanks to the special
relationship with their dogs and the trainings, everything came together very well. During their preparation, at the foundation’s training sessions, they were prepared with the help of our trainers, who escorted the runners as helpmates, and gave them verbal
instructions on the unknown tracks.

Alexa and Annamari participated in the HDR race for the first time:

“This track was a great challenge. There were several places where we only could follow one track and we had to step behind our dogs to fit the space, meanwhile our dogs were still leading us through the harness. There were level differences, and smaller overhanging brunches. It was a great adventure to experience that the dog was able to guide, in such a special situation during running, he tried to avoid what he could and find the appropriate curve, such tracks where we could move more smoothly” – said
after the race, Alexa Vértesi the owner of Titan.

“Szikra (Spark) is a genius, we’ve been through a lot, but I was amazed and staring, while running, how well he sensed, saw and signalled everything. He has a competitive spirit as well, and I think, my heightened state also played a little bit, but he was concentrated on me all the way long. It often happened that by the time Emese or Judit the helpmates of the Foundation, told us what to take care of, what level of difficulties are expected, we were over of it already, that I have not realised it. It was not an easy track, but I was not scared at all. The most defining moment was, when on the top of a larger slope, where the track was narrowed, I started to get tired, and Szikra became slower as well, he maybe sensed my tiredness, or he was thinking of how she can guide me to the top safely. At that time, I asked him to pull me up. He was replacing my energy, held me, he was waiting for me, he was there for me as he is there every single day.” – said Annamari Kardon the owner of Szikra.

Zsófi has participated in the HDR running for the second time, and as an experienced competitor explained how is the relationship between a guide dog and a visually impaired person:

“The same is true in sports and entertainment. I spend all of my time with Mokka during motor ride, which is my main hobby and during tandem cycling trainings which is my main sport activity. Our common programme is going to the theatre or the cinema. We
complete running trainings together as well, as we both love to move. In this as well, we found each other as true companions. She helps me, guides me during running, and I will give her the freedom of movement and scudding” – expressed Zsófi Lengyel who
was running the race with Mokka.

Our runners told that all the other competitors were kind to them. They always got some kind words and some encouragements, everyone crossed their fingers for them, when our runners stepped aside to let the fasters go. The volunteers of our Foundation
– among them were puppy raisers, family members, two and four legged friends – were waiting for them at the finish. They said enthusiastically, that the team of Baráthegyi are going to come again next year.