I am so gutted to see the steady stream of event cancellations in response to Corona. If this news had come straight after Christmas – when we were all willing to hibernate after a frenzy of social contact (some enforced) – it may have seemed more palatable. Now that the evenings are getting lighter we want to be out ‘there’ being sociable and cancelling our Netflix subscription.
My 93 year old mother (yes, she of the recent double pneumonia) tells me she is heartily sick of being ‘patronised’. ‘No-one is going to organise my life for me; I have disposable gloves in my handbag, and if I want to go the Ladies Luncheon this week I will. ‘Vulnerable’ indeed!’
I tell her that as I am now nearing the Big 6-0 this will soon put me in the ‘elderly’ bracket too. She finds this amusing and accepts that, ‘people are just being considerate,’ but that she doesn’t want to be ‘wrapped in bubble wool’ (she sometimes mixes her metaphors) or, ‘have people like Boris making decisions for me. I think she is secretly hinting that she still expects me to visit on Mothering Sunday.
I feel the need to be wrapped in ‘bubble wool’ myself after completing one of the last organised running fixtures this morning (20:20 Fission in Berkeley) before even more sports fixtures are cancelled. This was a small meet so it managed to slip in under the radar and I am so glad it did, even if I won’t be able to leave home for a while, even if I am allowed to.
People enter this race because it is one of the last chances to get 20 miles in before the big marathons take place. I love the fact that people with places in Manchester and London Marathons were still running this morning even though they knew these races have been deferred; it tells you a lot about their commitment.
Last year I ran this same race in preparation for London (#didn’tItellyouaboutthis?) and this year I have been dragged out of retirement with the ambitious goal of running Newport Marathon in April. Once again the 20:20 Fission entry went in.
There is much to love about this race: country lanes, friendly runners, great organisation and cheerful marshalls. If you enter the 20 miler and then feel a bit lack lustre on the morning of the race, you can swap to the 20k race instead. Best bit is the cup of tea and piece of cake at the end of the race in a village hall while you stretch down with your fellow runners and share running stories.
Sadly my two running partners were injured this year so I was running solo today- thank goodness I didn’t know at this stage that Newport Marathon would also be postponed later in the day. Not being as noble as the other runners I confess that my flesh would have been weak enough to seize the excuse to stay under the duvet for a cheeky lie in when the alarm went off.
At mile 15 my toes start cramping, so I am very grateful for the chat and banter from other runners. Everyone has a story to tell and everyone wants everyone else to finish – partly because it might be the last chance to participate in an organised race in a while. I was also more than glad to see my running partner cheering me on from mile 13 – I think he anticipated I would be looking for a get out clause by this stage. I needed spectator bubble wool this morning.
As I prise myself back into a sitting position to drive home, I reflect on the morning. What I love about the running community generally is their pragmatism and positivity. As soon as announcements came about postponing some of the big marathons, social media was full of upbeat reassurance that any delay would just mean more training time in the diary and less training on dark mornings/evenings. Any exercise is good exercise so don’t stop training. Running chat groups are already full of offers to run 26.2 miles locally with other long distance nutters on the days that these races should have taken place – and I bet there will be some pub grub thrown in, so a win for the hospitality industry too.
The other great thing about running is that although lots of events are getting cancelled, getting outdoors is not. We can just keep on doing what we like doing – we just can’t do it en masse.
As long as runners desist from in-transit snot projection, it should still be fine to run with friends/in small groups/with running clubs. The high-fiving of spectators may have to go, and for once, I may have to turn down the offer of a communal tub of jelly babies. I have seen the kids at school now tapping feet as a greeting instead of shaking hands or hugging, so perhaps this could be our new pre-run warm up. To be honest, there is usually so much Ralgex spray (other products available) in the air at the start of any race, I doubt even COVID-19 would stick around for long.
Speaking to mum on the phone at the end of the race she tells me I am not taking enough calcium and that this is the cause of my cramping feet. She tells me to sort it quickly as she doesn’t want any hiccups before Mothering Sunday next week. I love her optimism that I will be walking again by then. I may need to exile myself for the good of the realm and to find myself a good roll of bubble wool as cushioning. In fact, let us stop this language mash up; bubble wrap will do nicely – I will need the distraction, as will many of my friends who await news about any further COVID-induced event postponements.
If we are forced to live in this bubble we can at least give it a run for its money.