A lecturer in forensic science is swapping her lab coat for a dog sled to lead the way in the British 3-dog Husky Racing Championship.
Dr Katherine Brown
, from the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, is the owner and musher (driver) of eight Siberian Huskies
who she races with the British Siberian Husky Racing Association
(BSHRA), travelling fortnightly to Suffolk and Norfolk to race alongside hundreds of other teams.
Kat has recently been lucky enough to own some proper racing huskies (one of whom won Best Puppy in Crufts 2020
). Her team of three young girls - Pixel, Tifa and Aerith - are all aged between 1 and a half and two and a half years old and have never raced before. Kat and her girls recently won the hugely competitive 3-dog class championship, competing against 23 other teams. She has also won the trophy for the most successful all female dog team across all competitions.
Pixel is usually the lead dog: she runs out in front and has to listen carefully to Kat’s commands to turn the rig. Tifa and Aerith are the wheel dogs and must take a greater load than Pixel when making turns or changing directions. You can see Kat and her dogs in action by visiting her Youtube channel or Facebook page.
Kat said: “Siberians are fantastic pets but are born to work. You only have to show them the harnesses and they howl with excitement. Running our dogs gives me such happiness and solace in a busy working life; nothing beats whizzing through the woods with no sound other than pounding dog feet. The dogs love it and thrive on the exercise; racing keeps all our wellbeing in check. The fact we have, as such a young team, won the 3-dog championship is beyond my wildest dreams.”
Running our dogs gives me such happiness and solace in a busy working life; nothing beats whizzing through the woods with no sound other than pounding dog feet.
Kat is no novice to husky racing, having raced her older team of four rescue dogs for the last eight years. Kat has found success with her rescue dogs too, winning the rescue class
at the 2019 dryland world championships in Brighton.
Next season, Kat will look to add to her 3-dog team to compete in the 4-dog class, with her puppy who is currently 6 months old and chomping at the bit to start.
What is dryland rig racing?
‘Off snow’ or ‘dryland’ rig racing
is a form of sled dog racing where the sled is replaced by a three or four wheeled rig that can be used on dry land when there is no snow available. The UK sled dog racing season runs between September and May. There are a variety of racing classes specifically designed for rigs and their sled dog teams. Different racing classes involve teams of between two and eight dogs and their driver.
The sport is not exclusive to Siberian huskies: depending on the rules of a specific race class, a variety of working sled dog breeds - such as Alaskan Malamutes and Eskimo Dogs - can compete. Racing speeds can reach over 20 miles per hour, with Kat averaging around 17mph over a 2.7 to 3 mile course.