UTDX Training – Hillcrest Church

Last week I spotted a potential UTDX track at my church and decided to plot something to try today. I plotted it on Google Earth. Today I drove around the church and thought I could probably improve it upon seeing the grounds but decided I would stick to the plan, which would make the training track a bit more challenging. To my delight, Ben ran this track in 15 minutes and aside from one article buried under leaves, he was very confident today.

This post shows you photos with the track line drawn on them, and matching videos, so you can see the visual of the track I laid, and then watch how Ben handled it! Of course, I know where it goes, but I hope you will see that Ben is in charge and I let him make the decisions. When he is right, I quietly say “yes!” to let him know he is a good boy.

Background details about plotting and laying the track

On Google Earth it was 630 m, but using my Tom Tom Runner’s Watch it was 770 m. That is a big discrepancy but I probably added a few more steps in that were not accounted for on Google Earth, as a few legs required some “meanders.” When I laid it, I took photos of each leg. Below, I will share the photos of the legs with pink lines that show the track. Then I will give a link to the video so you can see how Ben did on each portion!

When we were leaving the church to let the track age, the parking lot was filling up and there was obviously an event taking place. When we returned to run the track, cars were lined up to leave. And so I knew the parking lot was very contaminated in the area of his non-veg turn at the end. However, he did a beautiful turn on rails. So amazing to see! (I know – spoiler!)


This is the map from my Tom Tom Runner’s Watch. Each yellow teardrop indicates an article. The start is on the left along the front of the church. In order, the articles were plastic light switch, wood square, cloth gardening glove, and at the end a leather article.

The total length of the track is 770 meters or 3/4 of a kilometer. An actual UTDX would not be this long.I could find easy ways to shorten it by moving the start up, and by altering the path around the back of the church to be simpler (in the photos below I use an orange line to show how I might consider changing it if this was an actual test track). This track was laid at 9:30 am and run at 12:30 pm.

Below you will find a breakdown of the track in sections with photos and video:

  1. First legs and first turn
  2. Parking lot and wood article
  3. Photos showing the track – Legs 4-7 along the back of the church, through the seacans to a cloth glove, article 3
  4. Photos showing the track from the cloth glove to the hard surface (non-veg) turn to the end
  5. Video of Judy Wallace and her Border Collie Lark running the entire track freshly run by Ben! Judy followed us and put down articles for Lark then ran her right away. It was very motivating for Lark and she does a wonderful job!

1. First legs – Photos showing the track (pink line)

Leg one was 200 m long
And here is Ben tracking on leg one, 3 hours later. There were two pieces of kibble along this leg. One is up beside that next light post
Leg two ran behind a row of trees. I saw a rabbit run by as I laid this. The plastic article is actually further up – odd perspective here

VIDEO 1 – Start and first turn

Here is a video of Ben on leg one, and his turn onto leg two leading up to the cloth article. He actually had trouble finding the article – and did a circular search for it. It was buried under leaves. I helped him to find it – he showed that he knew it was there.

2. Parking lot and wood article

Legs 3 and 4. There was a wood article just PAST the light post (it is hard to doodle these Xs on my iPhone! I originally drew the lines on my phone on a small screen)

VIDEO – 2nd turn onto parking lot and wood article

This is a video of Ben going from Leg 2 along the trees, out onto the parking lot to find his wood article…

3. Photos showing the track – Legs 4-7 along the back of the church, through the seacans to a cloth glove, article 3

After the wood article, the track turns right and goes around the corner
The pink line shows how I plotted it on Google Earth. I stuck with the plan, but the orange line shows how I would probably fix it for a test track
Lots of hard surface along the back of the church leading to veg
At the veg, I “meandered” to the left, then made a right turn across to the seacans
The turn is just between the two trees to the left between all of the seacans and sheds and a trailer. The orange line shows how I probably would fix this track for a test, by going straight back at the corner of the church, and then turning left to come up along here to join the track at the turn
Here is the leg between seacans and a shed and trailer. The cloth glove was actually past the trailer (hard to draw it on my iPhone using doodle)
Ben surprised me with how he confidently motored along this section even finding both meanders – along the back of the church to the veg (I had a treat there as I thought it was a hard leg), and then, after the trailer, to hook up with veg, leading to the glove I made a small wobble, and he was dead on! Here he is at the cloth glove!

VIDEO 3 – Mid-track behind the church and through the seacans to the cloth glove – article 3

4. Photos showing the track from the cloth glove to the hard surface (non-veg) turn to the end

Location of the cloth glove, looking ahead to a turn on sand and sparse plants into the parking lot
The turn on sand, looking ahead to the parking lot turn and glove at the end. The parking lot filled right up after this was laid, because of an event. As we ran the track, cars were leaving again so it was very contaminated when he ran it and did this hard surface turn.
The last leg to the turn! This area was covered in cars, and as we were preparing to start the track, there was a line up of cars alongside his last article, waiting to leave the church after an event!

VIDEO 4 – End of the track and parking lot turn

My good boy Ben – Spiritdance Blackthorn Ben TDX UTD


After Ben was finished his 3 hour old track, my friend Judy Wallace ran the track while it was fresh with her 1 year old Border Collie Lark. Judy only got Lark this summer and she has been working hard with her to get ready for a TD. Lark has been a wonderful dog to train, and Judy is an experienced tracker, having already trained her Border Collie – Brittany cross Shiloe (who is also a very solid tracker). All of that handling experience is coming in handy because Lark is really learning fast!

While I ran this track with Ben, Judy followed and put down articles for Lark. Lark has been doing very well, so Judy gambled that Lark would try the entire track. Lark really dug in and tried to run it! She found it incredibly motivating to follow Ben’s track. Here are her videos. You will see the familiar locations from above. She did an awesome job! You’ll be seeing a lot more of Little Miss Marlarky in the future!

Lark is a purebred sable Border Collie. She LOVES to track!

Lark video – hard surface to wood article

Lark video 2 – Mid Track

I am so sorry that my iPhone ran out of room and I only have photos of the end of Lark’s beautiful run. She found the hard surface turn but paused to stare at people talking by their truck. Then she whirled off to the right, to find her leather glove. Pretty amazing girl. You really don’t see this every day.

Lark following the track on sand leading to the parking lot
Lark already leaning to the right – turn is just past this van
After a brief pause, she swings to the right, catching wind of the glove!
That’ll do Lark! She has lovely down indications. Great job Judy!
“Yes, I love tracking… I think the walk out goes that way…”

I hope you have enjoyed this post about our tracking day today.

It is such a wonderful, positive sport.

If you are interested in Spiritdance lessons, seminars, online classes or 1:1 coaching please check out my website. Go to the Tracking and Dogs Menu tab for more information.


2 thoughts on “UTDX Training – Hillcrest Church”

  1. yes I am totally enjoying all the blog post, Ben is pretty amazing , so is Lark! I so wish you lived closer 🙂 but I appreciate all the descriptions of your tracks, they help me visualize and get new ideas for plotting my own tracks 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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