Tesco in the Age of Covid-19
The smell in the air is alcoholic; the clinical sharpness of hand sanitizer mixing with the fermented earthiness of a rotting cabbage, kicked behind the shelves in the brawl for the last of the fresh produce and either forgotten or ignored by the hollow eyed staff, long past caring. Cheerful clip-on signs apologising that this or that is out of stock lie cracked and trampled on the floor, the shelves bare of everything save torn cardboard and jars of garam masala. In the freezers, all that remains are cauliflower burgers. £20 for a pack of 2. A beleaguered oil tycoon and a single mother of 4, each driven half mad by desperation, wrestle on the floor for the final roll of single ply. Onlookers hover like ghosts, silently indifferent to the violence but hoping for a fatality so that they might feed the loser to their own starving families.
Actually, the people of Avimore look to have retained their sanity disappointingly well thus far. Not much pasta or pasasta, but anything not long dated and beginning with p is much as it always is.
In the last couple of days the rate of cancellations of spring races has accelerated dramatically. It has also started to affect more than just big city road races. The Fellsman, the Highland Fling, the Criffel hill race. Big, small and tiny, hill and trail races are dropping like flies who haven’t washed their hands. With uncertainty as rampant as the virus itself, race directors are taking the safe (correct) option to cancel or postpone.
The first dent in my own race calendar came with the postponement of the 3 Peaks and I’m certain that others will follow. In fact, at this stage, it will be a surprise if any of the summer’s races go ahead. Obviously, this is disappointing. I was looking forward to the Euskal Herria Mendi Erronka – Ehunmilak Basque country epic; a chance to right some of last year’s sporting wrongs and endear myself to the locals by butchering their strange and wonderful language.
But there’s more to life than running. Fortunately, a few massive arseholes aside, people seem to be sanguine about these cancellations. Like foot and mouth in 2001, this isn’t good for anyone and a little perspective goes a long way.
And while we’ll all miss the chance to pin a number on, there is opportunity here. Already I’m excited about the prospect of getting round to some of the things that I never quite make room for in a normal season. Whether they’re the wrong sport, the wrong terrain or just a massive logistical faff, there’s a list the length of my arm (or even a less stumpy person’s arm). Tour of the Cairngorms, the Cairngorm Loop, the Assynt Traverse, the Cuillin Ridge, Ramsay’s and Rigby’s and God knows what else. It irks me that these things go neglected (particularly when the things I’m training for end up going so badly, but that’s a seperate issue) so the prospect of months on end where I’ll genuinely have nothing better to do is thrilling.
Grim as the situation is, runners have carte blanche to do things they’d never usually do. Runing 6,250 laps of your living room should get you through your self isolation. Once that’s done, take a look at GoFar’s list of ultra challenges or find your local longest straight line. Whatever you like, the weirder the better, as long as it doesn’t involve licking the elderly.
Go forth, do stuff, wash your hands.