Mark McConnell, who is known as the man behind Hot Sauce Cycling on social media, was out running the Bow River Pathway in Calgary with his dog, Charlie, on Tuesday morning. The two run 8K together each morning in what has become a daily habit.

McConnell, a international-level cyclist, had a scare on Tuesday’s run as his dog ran out onto the ice chasing a duck and fell through. The Saskatchewan-born rider then jumped in after Charlie and was able to pull him to safety before getting himself out of the frigid waters.

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The cyclocross specialist, who in a previous post this winter admitted that he reminds himself that he is a runner second by wearing a cycling cap while out on training runs, recounted the series of events on social media shortly after the incident.

Instagram post

Charlie and I run eight kilometres every morning. Our loop takes us down by the Bow River. Where the ice is thin and fleeting, but a threat nonetheless. ' This morning Charlie ran out onto the thin ice after a duck and fell through. Trapped in a pocket of freezing water and breaking ground around her, I dove in shortly after. At first I tried to stay on top of the ice, but broke through just as quickly. Smashing the thin walls between us both, I fought posthaste to reach my drowning dog. ' Fully immersed in the frozen water, I reach Charlie but I am now drowning too. I grab her by the harness and toss her toward my entry, now our exit, she finds the way to swim back out. ' I try to follow but my layers are pulling me under, the struggle to reach her was adrenaline fuelled, I am now out of gas and going into shock. ' My heart and head are screaming, I do only now what I've done a thousand times before: I try to bring my heart rate down, I stop the fight for a moment to recover. I lay onto my backside, barely above water, and take a few deep breaths. ' I slowly wade myself belly up and back toward the icy shore. Charlie is waiting for me there, and when my feet touch the ground I make my way out of the River to greet her. ' With no one around us in any direction for at least a kilometre, completely drenched and frozen, we try to reset by resuming our run to home and safety — as if there was any other option. ' My lungs are on fire, my body is in shambles, but still I find the steps I need to take with Charlie leading the way. ' Every morning Charlie and I run eight kilometres. Nearing the finish of our loop, we have a race to the top of a small hillside near our home. Today I spent the last two kilometres running the life back into me, and when the hillside greets us, Charlie quickens her pace and beckons me to join her. My lungs are still ablaze, but I feel obliged to challenge her. What's left of me sprints with dead legs, she always wins this race, and today is no different. ' We reach home where Aimee greets us, both still soaking wet, she knows what happened without a word, and begins to make a pot of tea while I begin to draw the bath. ' #HotSauceCycling

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McConnell’s recap of the events

Charlie and I run eight kilometres every morning. Our loop takes us down by the Bow River. Where the ice is thin and fleeting, but a threat nonetheless.

This morning Charlie ran out onto the thin ice after a duck and fell through. Trapped in a pocket of freezing water and breaking ground around her, I dove in shortly after. At first I tried to stay on top of the ice, but broke through just as quickly. Smashing the thin walls between us both, I fought posthaste to reach my drowning dog.

Fully immersed in the frozen water, I reach Charlie but I am now drowning too. I grab her by the harness and toss her toward my entry, now our exit, she finds the way to swim back out.

I try to follow but my layers are pulling me under, the struggle to reach her was adrenaline fuelled, I am now out of gas and going into shock.

My heart and head are screaming, I do only now what I’ve done a thousand times before: I try to bring my heart rate down, I stop the fight for a moment to recover. I lay onto my backside, barely above water, and take a few deep breaths.

I slowly wade myself belly up and back toward the icy shore. Charlie is waiting for me there, and when my feet touch the ground I make my way out of the River to greet her.

With no one around us in any direction for at least a kilometre, completely drenched and frozen, we try to reset by resuming our run to home and safety — as if there was any other option.

My lungs are on fire, my body is in shambles, but still I find the steps I need to take with Charlie leading the way.

Every morning Charlie and I run eight kilometres. Nearing the finish of our loop, we have a race to the top of a small hillside near our home. Today I spent the last two kilometres running the life back into me, and when the hillside greets us, Charlie quickens her pace and beckons me to join her. My lungs are still ablaze, but I feel obliged to challenge her. What’s left of me sprints with dead legs, she always wins this race, and today is no different.

We reach home where Aimee greets us, both still soaking wet, she knows what happened without a word, and begins to make a pot of tea while I begin to draw the bath.”

Fortunately, McConnell and his canine companion are OK.


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