Race Review – The Bedford 20

The Bedford 20 is an inaugural event that joins a few of those races that really do act as decent marathon prep. It used to be that for London you would need to sign up for the now defunct Kingston Breakfast run but now there are more opportunities for a LSR under race conditions in your prep for your spring marathon. And that is exactly why I signed up, in preparation for the Vienna Marathon that I will be running on the same day as VLM.

Apparently this will be an incredibly scenic, superfast and traffic free 2-lap course through stunning Bedfordshire countryside. The FAQ and Race Rules do read a little more SS Oberst Gruppen Führer than normal but that could because this is a new race. A new race, with a cute medal.

Signing Up

This race used Active.com for sign up. And you know what that means…

This was during the storm in December when we the online running community raised the hacks with Active, got completely ignored, raised it with the races who raised it with Active, who lied to them. 3 laptops bought on my AMEX, and I didn’t even get the email about the hack. And so, not wanting to pay for some scumbag to get a free holiday to Costa Del Crime I emailed the organisers, stating my concerns, and they were wonderful enough to allow me to sign up via bank transfer.

SAFE!

The Bling

THE ROUTE

How best to describe it? I think I pretty much hit the nail on the head with a tweet that described the route as “like 6 parkruns strung together. Mostly park path, a motorway bridge, a few muddy fields, some woodland paths. Twice.” But that doesn’t necessarily do it justice. We did run around a lake a couple of times. We ran along the river into Bedford town centre. Twice. And that motorway bridge was 99% of the elevation.

After a hilly mare at Transgrancanaria, and then Amsersham 50K, that broke me a little physically, with my confidence taking a bit of a hit, so my aim was a nice comfortable run. The cut off was generous at 5 hours. If a runner didn’t reach Mile 18 in 4hrs 30mins they will be asked to withdraw from the race. My aim was 3:30 and…

HOW I DID?

I have been suffering a bit. The maranoia has taken hold. I have not run at all since Amersham, but have been to the gym a lot, cycling, of all things, as well as leg strengthening exercises as my thigh strain was still killing me. My aim was to see how I went, run, run/walk if I had to but just get through my first ever 20 mile race.

Donning my short sleeved Boba Fett t-shirt and exhausted from broken sleep and average food at the Swan Hotel I started at a decent pace for me. Nice easy 5.30 minute KMs to tick me over as we started in the car park of the country park and headed along narrow park paths away from Bedford and towards the motorway.
We crossed the bridge and then swung around a lake, catching a drink at water tables at well positioned points, manned by cheery and supportive marshals. Then back around a few fields, across a few more, and to another lake (maybe the same lake) and then along the river and into town.
This bit, the river into town was perhaps the easiest to handle. Twice. It was on wider paths, that were well maintained. You ran along one side as far as a small bridge, that you then crossed, and ran all the way back on the other side and all the way back to the start. And at the first lake? Bazza Norman as cheer squad. Was good to see him, as always. And it gave me a breather before continuing on my run.

The Photos

As with the photos for this race organiser they are on flickr and therefore free, which is good (tick), however, the photographer(s) seem to take photos of the leaders, then lose interest and potter about taking so many photos of the marshals and volunteers you would be hard pressed to work out it was actually a running race. Out of the photos to take, other than the mass at the start, unless you were one of the lead runners you probably won’t get a photo. If, however, you were giving out water, milling about the Race HQ or a duck, then you will have a tonne of photos. To illustrate this, here are the only photos of me, despite there being numerous photographers on the course.

Bagdrop 

They are not the best are they? They are free, but if you look at the Flickr page, a majority are in the Race HQ, photos of the marshals, and the tee and the tents.

The Start

SUMMARY

Ok. What did I want out of this? After 2 marathons and a 50K in the space of 3 weeks and then no running for the next fortnight the aim was to get around and get around without getting any more broken. That I managed to do. The maranoia I had been suffering from with anything from my PF flaring up, or my thigh strain, or my Morton’s Neuroma causing me angst, has now been put to rest.

I did run for a chunk, I did walk a bit, particularly in the boggy fields near the end. And I missed my target, but only just, and I am ok with that. After all, the main events are still to come this year. And this was just a run, just a race, just 20 miles added to the others.

And I really hope the Bedford 20 continues. It is good practice for a spring marathon. I think they should keep the retro Old Skool tee and medal, and maybe mix up the colours, pale blue, red, white with black writing etc. People will love that. And get a bigger online presence too. There was no Twitter or Instagram handle. There is a website, and a Facebook page, but really? Come on guys, get with the times.

I actually enjoyed this race. I know plenty of others who would have too. It did, as I mentioned, feel like 6 parkruns strung together like a string of sausages, but that was fine. We had lakes, and rivers, and swans, and farmland to enjoy.

WOULD I RECOMMEND THE BEDFORD 20? Yes, I would. It was very well organised, great medal and tee. Very friendly and supportive marshals, and it is perfectly timed for that spring mara race condition LSR.

WOULD I RUN THE BEDFORD 20 AGAIN? No, I probably wouldn’t but I would rarely run any race more than once.

NEXT UP: PHOENIX

RUNNING GROOVY MARATHON

No, no, hold your horses. Before the next marathon there is the small matter of…

THE REGENTS PARK EASTER 10K

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