At 9:00 am Saturday 14th March, this year's Rogue Runs Berkeley 20/20 Fission race got underway.
This was to be one of the last races this season not to be affected by the coronavirus! Tewkesbury Running club were well represented with Angie Sadler, Nick Matthews, Emma1 Smith, Laura Kent and Cameron Pay all making the start line of the 20 mile run - this was not looking likely a few days before with the expected, but disappointing news that all the spring marathons had been postponed or cancelled. You have to be reasonably motivated (and some would say stupid) to race 20 miles but then having the main motivation of an upcoming marathon taken away at the last moment, was a real test of the runner's mental strength. Added to this, was a pesky cough that both Emma1 and Cam had been struggling with in the week before the run.
The option to downsize from 20 miles to 20 kilometres was dangled in front of the runners right up until 15 minutes before the start. Nick's motivational speech as we discussed this was basically "We've come all this way and trained for the 20 mile race, why settle for any less". Well said Nick.
The course was a 2 lap, 10 mile loop with 3 water stations on the loop; a very welcome sight as the runners got underway was our very own Pete 'no filter' Davies marshalling: The lure of free tea, cake, t-shirt and entry into the Severn Bridge Half Marathon was too great for Pete... although, it was all well deserved and hard earned as anyone standing still for 5 hours will testify!
Following the newly released government guidelines, Emma1, Laura and Cam decided to socially isolate themselves from Angie and Nick who quickly strode off into the distance, not to be seen again.
The cunning plan devised for Emma1 by her support crew was to run at 10:30 minute miles and take on water at every water stop. Laura had been drafted in at the last minute as a stand in for Phil Prince who is unfortunately out with a long term knee injury. Under her doctor's orders, Laura has never ran more than 15 miles and although very tempted, was not going to do 2 laps, but instead pace Emma1 and Cam around lap 1, then have a rest and join in again for the final glory mile.
The course was as flat as advertised and on quiet rural (covered in mud and cowpats) lanes around Berkeley Nuclear Power station.
Although well marshalled and signposted, the course lacked any spectators and the water stations had no gels, energy drinks, bananas or even jelly babies, which came as an unwelcome surprise to Cam who thought he might be able to recoup some of the £23 entry fee by treating the aid stations as a walking buffet.
Lap 1 was perfectly paced by Laura as Emma1 and Cam came in at 1.50 well under the 2 hour midway cut off time.
Onto the 2nd lap and Emma1 only had Cam with her for 'support'. Emma1 was our runner/member of the month in January for a reason, and the training mileage she has been putting in has been awesome and held her in good stead for the tough 2nd half. The same could not be said of her 'support' runner who was finding out that you may be able to 'wing' a half marathon with minimal training and a bit of buffoonery, but anything more than 13 miles needs some proper preparation. So the toilet stops and water stops got longer and the pace dropped as everything started to hurt.
With 'only a parkrun to go' at mile 17 the cavalry arrived over the horizon in the shape of the lovely Laura. Getting cold she had walked/ran the loop in reverse and arrived to re-energise the 2 flagging runners.
The finish times were; the amazing Angie winning her FV60 age group prize in 2:48 hrs:min, Nick 2:49, Emma1 and Cam 3:51 with Laura running a pb distance of 16 miles.
The finishers technical running top, medal, tea and cake were most welcome and the pain of the last 6 miles were soon forgotten.