Matt Baker: Countryfile star hopes new-found sport will help him overcome past ‘struggles’

Matt Baker apologises to ‘all dogs’ after Countryfile

TV presenter Matt Baker, 44, told Countryfile viewers that he’s been looking for a new form of exercise to keep him active, and he might just have found one that involves his beloved pet dogs. Matt admitted that being able to get out and about with his pets meant he could overcome his running “struggles” he’d suffered previously.

I’ll be honest, I’ve struggled with running in the past

Matt Baker

During the BBC show, he took part in a spot of canicross, a sport originating from Norway in the 1980s, where dog owners run behind their hounds as they pull them along.

Matt met contributor Cushla and her dog Rocky, who showed him the ropes and introduced him and his own labrador Annie, to the harness.

“I’ll be honest, I’ve struggled with running in the past,” he said.

“So to be out with your dog and to have a purpose to exercise your dog and be there together is something that I’m really looking forward to!”

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With high hopes, Matt was eager to get a wiggle on but he and Annie soon ran into a spot of bother as she was too well behaved to tug on a lead.

“I’ve got the secret weapon,” Matt laughed.

“The tennis ball!”

But Annie was having none of it and instead the presenter had to settle with running alongside his furry friend instead.

He soon had his work cut out as he tried canicross with an experience pooch, Chaos.

Bred as a sled dog, his strength and power had Matt’s legs going like the wind.

“It’s unbelievable!” he wheezed, as he ran along filming himself.

He wondered whether one of his sheep dogs would be better candidates if he was to try the sport again.

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Elsewhere, an unearthed interview saw Matt apologise for stepping down from his role as president of the National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs (NFYFC), of which he was elected back in 2011.

The dad-of-two explained he was struggling to find time to spend with his young children Molly and Luke, due to the challenges of carrying out his multiple work commitments – which then included The One Show and Countryfile – and stood down from the post two years later.

The farming-enthusiast told The Farmers Guardian at the time: “The challenges are trying to get to places and to see people and show my support.

“Yes, I can have conversations with people wherever I go but I think the hardest thing has been knocking back all of the emails that have been coming in saying, ‘Will you come and see us?’

“That has been the hardest thing for me to see.”

He apologised and admitted he didn’t want to play the family card but had to put their needs first: “I’m sorry. I can’t get out there and see you because I’m so busy,” he said.

“I don’t want to play the old family card but I’m sure all the families will know I’ve got young children.”

He added: “When I’m not at work I’m trying to see them. It gets very difficult.”

Countryfile airs Sundays on BBC One at 7pm.

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