Virtual Chocathon – 20.11.20

Race Report by Sonia Karamat

Without a ballot place for the VLM, Mylene and I signed up for the Tissington Trail Marathon scheduled on the 26th April, the same day as London. Training started in the New Year and included a half marathon and 20 mile races as part of the preparation. By the 15th of March when several Massey runners turned up for the Oundle 20, we all realised it would be our last “real” race for a while, with virtual races then a complete unknown. We were not wrong.

Very quickly my races – two half marathons and one 10km – were either postponed or cancelled altogether. Still, I hung onto the fact that I had another 10km and 10 mile booked for the autumn, and these fitted quite well with the rescheduled date for the Tissington Trail – 22nd November.

In the early lockdown weeks I was just grateful that I was allowed to run at all and then overjoyed that we could meet up with our running buddies. Also, the virtual race world opened up so I had the Massey Remote Relays, the Kenilworth Grand Prix, WRRL and other charity virtual races to give my training focus and to have something to look forward to.

Marathon training started again in August with weekly long slow runs usually on Fridays. When Brenda organised a virtual VLM in October it was win-win, because I could support Amanda and other runners, while doing a 16 mile long slow run. The joys of that Sunday were short lived because a few days later the Tissington Trail was postponed again until 2021. Despite all the Covid19 measures the organisers had put in place, the landowners would no longer allow the race to go ahead.

I did find some replacement marathons for November and opted for the Saxons, Vikings and Normans Northampton Chocathon. My choice was based on the date, its proximity, naive belief it wouldn’t be cancelled and the lure of lots of chocolate goodies over a 5-ish lap course! Oh how wrong I was and instead lockdown 2 came along. With the training once more completed and faced with yet another marathon postponed until 2021, I decided to take the virtual Chocathon option.

The great thing about this was the opportunity not only to decide my own race date and start time, but to choose my own route. This meant plotting several laps, heading out from and returning to my car on Angela and Dave’s drive so that I could refuel, while making each lap shorter than the last to give myself some sort of psychological edge. Added to that, I included sections that I really enjoy running. 

Although I had none of the usual cheering and water stations you get along the route at real races, at least I didn’t have pre-race nerves and no waiting around for my wave start. Instead, I had the incredible support of Massey runners tracking my progress on iPhones and co-ordinating their arrival so they could start the next lap with me. There were even strategic race photographers (thank you Janette and Andy) and Angela handed out chocolate goody bags as a little thank you. Angela, Dave, Mylene, Amanda, Debbie, Sheila, Janette and Andy – you all gave amazing support before, during and after the race. You helped the miles fly by and showed just how Massey runners turn up trumps. I really cannot thank you all enough.

While I have already signed up for an actual race next February (fingers crossed), I now think that virtual races are just as much fun, if not more so, than real races. So, if there are any Massey runners looking for support for their virtual races, please shout out because I am sure you will find willing volunteers. Especially me.

NB I can’t wait for my medal and chocolates😋