2020 is the year which threw us hurdle after hurdle, starting off with storms that lead to the cancellation of events, followed by Covid-19, which not only lead to the cancellation of events but also changed the way we operated as a club. However, despite everything, the year has been packed full of RIOT challenges and Member achievements and here are our top five highlights of 2020.
The RIOT Adventure Race
Organising an Adventure Race normally takes a lot of work and planning, but in a Covid world there was more to consider to keep us all safe. Following risk assessments and a lot of preparation we were pleased to be able to hold the RIOT Adventure Race 3. On a sunny day in October, over 50 RIOT runners and volunteers descended on the Dorset countryside ready to take on whatever mystery challenges awaited them. Teams of three armed with just a map, a book page number and set of cryptic clues, went off in search of checkpoints to earn points. Teams could earn bonus points by completing challenges along the way, including a tug-of-war with our friendly RIOT troll and phone calls to a mystery assassin. After the scores were totted up the AR3 winners were crowned, well done to George Peters (who got his name engraved on the AR shield for the second time), Mary Godding and Mark Brown. We hope that we can bring the event back for 2021, complete with the post-event social that we all missed!
Couch to 5km
Completing the Couch to 5k course is hard enough in a normal year, but when your course is stopped part-way through due to Covid, it is that much more difficult to keep going or to pick it up again! However, many of those due to graduate in March stepped up to the challenge of completing the course, whether this was achieved solo or in our small groups (when restrictions allowed). Though parkrun is currently cancelled, we still wanted to mark their achievement and arranged a virtual graduation parkrun on Weymouth seafront, where they were supported by RIOTers every step of the way. Since then it has been great to see so many of the graduates embrace club runs, throw themselves into RIOT challenges and see their running going from strength to strength along the way. Many have been building up their distance, achieving PBs or just sticking to a regular running routine, which is often a challenge once you finish the course. We look forward to seeing what they achieve next and hope we will be able to run further courses in 2021 for others that want to get running!
The start of the year was looking promising, with RIOT represented across a range of events; Broadstone Quarter, Blackmore Vale Half, Wimborne 20, Dirty Devil Stampede, the Grizzly and the Larmer Tree races, to name just a few. Though RIOTers have squeezed in some events since March, Covid has lead to the rise of the virtual race! Virtual events are difficult, requiring a different type of mental determination; you need to organise your own aid, plan your route and you don’t always have those crowds to give you that much needed boost when things get tough! However, that didn’t stop RIOT and our Members did themselves proud at a range of virtual events, including 50-100 mile cycles, and running events from 5km to marathon distance and beyond. We loved seeing Member’s achievements; particular highlights were the virtual Weymouth half, that saw many achieve their first 13.1, seeing RIOTers complete crazy ultra distances in excess of 50 miles solo and the Virtual London Marathon which brought PBs, first time marathons and a proud show of support and community across the club. Finally, running once for a medal wasn’t enough for some, and we enjoyed following the progress of those that completed the grueling Phoenix 12 or 24 events, which required the grit to get out on the hour, every hour, for 12 or 24 hours, no matter the weather.
Our RIOT challenges not only helped get us out and active when motivation for some was low, but they also brought us together as a club. Our first lockdown challenge was the ‘Chaingang Challenge’, where RIOTers ran for for two weeks from 5am to 9pm just to see our very own pantomime villain, Paul Danbury, run in a tooth costume! This challenge was followed by the ‘RIOT Roulette’, with teams putting in guesses to see who would be closest to the daily mileage total. This got competitive but after a nail-biting finale, Samantha Mercer, Keith Horn, Paul Gardner, Emily Wiltshire and Richard Archer took the top spot. Though the sun was lacking this year, our 2020 Race the Sun challenge was our biggest yet, with over 85 RIOTers running from sunrise to sunset on the longest day of the year. The day was kicked off in style with a Ringstead sunrise run by our RIOT Man and Woman of Steel, Shelley Carter and Malcolm Curtis, joined by our Chair Martin Mustoe. Our 2020 challenge highlight has to be the ‘Every Mile Counts‘ challenge, which raised funds to put towards items for homeless and vulnerable adults in Dorchester. This was our biggest RIOT challenge to-date with over 90 RIOTers taking part, working as a team to meet mileage targets and identify mystery doors, motivated not only by those shoebox items but also Committee forfeits of a cold morning sea dip, car washing and litter picking.
Running is our Therapy
2020 has been an anxious year for many of us, Covid and the associated impacts, have meant that many of us have sought solace in running, swimming or cycling. You only have to read Strava’s 2020 summary to see how people across the world embraced physical activity during lockdowns and since, not only to keep fit and get fresh air as many were restricted to home offices, but also help us with our mental heath. In light of this, RIOT started Wellbeing Wednesday and joined the England Athletics Run and Talk initiative to promote mental health awareness. However, despite virtual events and challenges many struggled with motivation during lockdowns, and missed the connections brought through a club run. That first club run back together again in June, after two months, was a highlight for many of us in the club. It made us appreciate the benefits of the group runs, welcoming the motivation, conversation, views, jokes, segment chasing and distractions they bring, whether that was hill reps on a Tuesday, a chat on a Thursday or a sunny Sunday Lulworth run. We are now fully embracing the spreadsheets and appreciating the time and organisation that goes into club runs in Covid times and we want to take this opportunity to thank all those who have volunteered to lead runs and cycles this year to help keep us all moving. Though club runs may be temporarily paused again as we head into 2021, we know that the first club runs back together again, when the time is right, will be worth the wait.
Happy New Year to all our Members
On behalf of the RIOT Committee, we want to thank you all for your ongoing support to the Club and we wish you all a Happy and Healthy 2021 and hope we are running together again before too long!