Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Bingo: The Worlds Most Unfair Race

When James Adams announced his race concept I was intrigued. I used to love bingo as a child and marry it up with running what could go wrong??? The answer..... The sick twisted mind of James Adams. Now don't get me wrong I had a great time, but that man has a unique way of perverting the innocent. For those who ran in the race or know the concept you will understand my turn of phrase. For those of you who don't let me explain the race.

The race is made up of a repeated number of a 2.2 mile loop. How many loops? Well that is determined by blind stupid luck. Complete a loop and enter the pen. Here you go to your assigned ball bag. Pull a numbered bingo ball out of the bag and if it's one of your assigned numbers then BINGO it's crossed off and you carry on. Drawer your three allocated numbers and you're done. With 30 balls in the bag you could finish in any variant of 3-30 laps (6.6- 66miles). Add in a 10 hour cut off and its makes for a fun run. My particular favourite element was the race bibs. With your assigned numbers on the bib you would have the number struck out with black marker when drawn from the bag (more on this later).

The Bingo Race was announced with a date exactly 6 weeks from TP100. Seemed a great chance to benchmark my training.

I turned up on the morning of the race to a great atmosphere. A small field of idiots... Sorry... Runners were present and all seemingly prepped and ready for a fun day out. It was bloody cold, but no one was really arsed (marshalls excluded of course). I was a little concerned that a 2.2 mile lap would become tedious after 3 or 4  laps, but of course I'd be done after 5 or 6 right??? Right??????? Anyway regardless of lap total the race never became tedious at any point. I have to commend the route planning. It was a genuinely well thought out loop. There was some nice little climbs, you doubled back enough that you regularly saw other runners and The last mile pretty much always has the start/finish in sight. Aside from that the course was quite pretty as well.

The race started well a nice gentle jog to get familiar. I chatted to those a rounded me. There was a lot of banter around finishing 3 laps. I'd decided that I would hold a pace plan that matched my plans for Thames Path 100. 1 lap came and went... 2....3....4... Still no ball. By now the cursory glances at other people's race numbers to numbers crossed off had begun. On lap 6 I drew one of my three numbers. Good job as James Adams pointed out with a smile I was one of the last runners without a ball drawn. Ok now I felt part of the race so off we went. Well after a couple of jaffa cakes and a catch up with some familiar faces. Lap 7... 8...9...10... No ball drawn. I had begun to refer to the ball bag as the bag of disappointment. Still I was having a great day. James and his merry crew were providing suitable jokes and banter. Everyone was sharing laughs and the mood didn't drop at all throughout the day. The longer it went I think hysteria may have set in. 11... 12...13...14... No ball. Good fun? Yes? Was I going to dnf? Probably. Each lap I poked my head into gazebo just to confirm still no balls and grab a jaffa cake. Between Lindley Chambers, James Elson and James Adams I think they found it as amusing as myself. Tonight I would not be buying a lottery ticket.

As the field dwindled, with runners collecting their third ball and in turn a medal, the United front of the unfortunate few solidified. The knowing look of "here we go again" and then run a loop, brief moment of optimism and then carry on. As the light dwindled it was apparent that my chances were not in my favour... 3in30, 2in24, 2in18, 2in12... The odds improved but somehow it was clear to me that I'd be running until timed out.

So as I thought I came into my 19th loop and to my ball bag ready to draw out a ball. If it was one of my numbers I'd dash out on a final loop. No danger there then. So there it was. I ran as long as allowed and finished with one drawn ball. 

I had a great day out and felt well prepped for TP100. I held a steady pace throughout and felt like I still had running in my legs. As experiments go this was a great race that I thoroughly enjoyed. My only critique would that on concluding my last lap everything was being packed up and I returned to start finish line in darkness. I'd been looking to grab a quick coffee before getting in the car as well. In fairness to James I don't know if there were tight time constraints to being on the land as a race. I would hope for future events that the start finish remains operational until last person crosses the line. With that said its a small critique for what for me was a cracking day out. I'd recommend future such events to anyone... Let's just hope your luck is better than mine.