The (Nearly) Bowood (Pewsham Estate) Virtual 10km Run by Stewart Unsworth

The official Bowood 10k race fell victim to the coronavirus outbreak but the organisers, Calne Rotary Club and LPS Events kindly offered to post a medal to any entrant who completed a ‘virtual 10k’ by midnight on 12th April and sent proof by the 15th. The results were to be collated and a final ‘virtual finishing order’ announced. Therefore it would be prudent to seek out a fast, flat course to maximise the final position on the leaderboard. Luckily, I knew an alternative event organiser by the name of S.Unsworth who asserted it would be a race like no other. I suppose the ‘(Nearly) Bowood (Pewsham Estate) Virtual 10km Run’ does fit that description but perhaps not in the way envisaged.

The virtual run package contained the following promises/recommendations: 1. Personalised race number with chip timing. 2. Well stocked water station. 3. Professional start/finish line. 4. The ‘Infamous Bus Stop Chicane’. 5. Opportunity for a PB on a ‘flat course’. 6. Run at an appropriate time of day in order to get the best weather conditions. 7. Wear road shoes; not trail.

Sadly, the reality was as follows: 1. ‘Personalised number’ was one used in a previous race with the title for this race written over in biro; additionally there was no corresponding timing mat thus the chip was rendered useless. 2. The water station was a stool stationed at around 8km with one glass of water and a small plate of pointlessly wrapped sweets. 3. The start/finish line was a piece of paper stuck to someone’s front door with blu-tack. 4. The ‘Bus Stop Chicane’ was a bus stop that you could easily run past only serving to slow the runner down in an event that was marketed as a PB opportunity. 5. The course had as much elevation as the real Bowood 10k. 6. The start time was at 5pm; the hottest time of the day at 22 degrees. 7. No marshals. 8. No km markers. 9. Definitely no medical provision. 10. Part of the course was off-road and at the far end became a marshy quagmire that rendered road shoes unusable. The hapless organiser belatedly cut this part out meaning it became a short course. Therefore in the final mile the route was hastily changed on the hoof to correct the distance. 11. Despite winning the race (because no-one else was foolish enough to enter) no winners trophy or any other recognition of success was forthcoming.

Hopefully in the months to come I’ll do races organised professionally rather than by some inept cowboy. Stay safe everyone.