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Warwickshire Bear Ultra

Rugby, Warwickshire
Big Bear Events has provided covid-19 safety information for this event.

Organiser's Description

The Warwickshire Bear Ultra is a new 60km ultra marathon through beautiful Warwickshire countryside. Starting and finishing in Rugby this Ultra takes you along old railways, cycle paths, canal footpaths and around reservoirs, to Leamington Spa, where you turn on your heels to come home again! An awesome 60km ultra, great course, toilets along the route and you’ll be running back towards the home of “that flapjack” - what’s not to love!!

The out and back nature means there is limited race admin and with HQ a short walk from Rugby station it’s perfectly placed! We’ve got generous cut-offs and the course is great for newcomers and experienced athletes alike.

Start Time



60 km

More Info

Event website

For this event to be a success we need to take every step possible to ensure the transmission of Covid is as minimal as possible. Being an outdoor event helps but this is a different situation to you running alone in a park. These tweaks and adjustments may slow you down, may make the experience different to what you would like and expect. We make no apologies for this. If events are going to happen we have a collective responsibility to look after each other before during and after the event. This is the first running of an event we want to run for many years to come so we need to ensure we don’t have a negative impact on the communities we are running though.

Please read these instructions in detail. It is new to all involved so you will need to read it regardless of how experienced you are. Don’t be “that” idiot…!

Before the event

  • If you are experiencing Covid Symptoms do not travel to the event. If your crew are experiencing symptoms ensure they do not travel to the event. If you are a volunteer do not travel to the event and let us know.
  • Your bib will be posted to you (if you entered more than 2 weeks before race day) there will be no registration in the traditional sense. If you have moved since you entered please update your information by logging in at bigbearevents.net
  • The pre-race briefing will be emailed and on youtube around 48 hours before the event.
  • Please limit any spectators and crew. We will ask you to email us the names and phone numbers or any crew you will have at the event so we can pass these details on to the government track and trace if requested to do so. The event is planned so you can turn up and run it solo without the need for outside support. Aid stations (roughly) every 5 miles is a high level of support for an ultramarathon.

Race Morning

  • Park at the train station, there is no parking at the HQ, it is drop off only (literal drop off, not 25 minutes waiting drop off!)
  • Hand sanitise before entering the school site and follow any arrows for entry and exit.
  • We will have a bag drop in the school, it will not be guarded all day so do not leave valuables in your bags. If possible please try to limit your use of this. Ensure you bring your (small) bag with a clear label with your bib number on please. 1 volunteer will be taking your bag and placing next to other bags. You must hand sanitise before dropping your bag off and after picking it up.
  • As above, the race briefing will be online 48 hours before the event.
  • There will not be a mass start. There will be time trial starts spaced 15s apart. We will be sending people a 10 minute start window when we would like you to start between 7:30-8:30. This is to prevent crowding and help maintain social distancing. If there is an issue with your window contact us directly via email. Social distancing is essential though, so please don’t send a list of your 5 friends you want to run with, it just isn’t possible, and we all need to make adjustments.
  • There will be toilets at HQ.
  • If you have arrived and you are ready to run please congregate (while socially distancing) outside on the school grounds. We’ll call runners over to the start line (it’s a 50m walk) to limit bunching and crowding at the start.

During the Race

  • Maintain social distancing throughout the event. This means a minimum of 2m between you and other runners or members of the public. Where this isn’t possible run single file or if there are real pinch points give way to other users (or the faster runner) and turn your back to limit airborne transmission.
  • Limit touching of gates, styles road furniture as you run. Where you need to open gates etc. please use hand sanitiser before and after. Use the cuff from your top or a buff to reduce the likelihood of transmitting Covid through touch. Follow the countryside code though and leave all gates as you find them and close anything you open. Stick to footpaths.

Aid Stations

  • Weather permitting these will be outdoors (except for the toilets).
  • If you do not wish to stop at an aid station ensure the timekeeper has marked you down and continue running.
  • There will be limits on the numbers of people allowed in to an aid station and social distancing must happen.
  • Were possible there will be separate ways in and out, please pay attention.
  • Where the aid station is indoors we will have disposable face masks for you to use. It would be even better if you could run with your own to reduce waste.
  • We will not able to supply the smorgasbord of goodies we are known for and love to supply. The ultra-buffet is a long way from returning. To reduce a contact point we will be supplying mostly pre-packaged foods for you to pick up. We will confirm in the week before the event what this will be.
  • There will be water, SIS electrolyte and coke at all aid stations. To remove a contact point this will be poured by a volunteer in to your cup, bladder etc. The volunteer must not touch your cup and you must not touch the pouring jug. This may end in spills but will mean 150 people don’t all touch the same handle.
  • We’ve all had an “ultra strop” but vent it at your crew not the aid station volunteers. They’d love to give you a big sweaty hug and fill your face with every different type of food but it’s not happening during social distancing. If you can’t handle that then please consider whether you should start as you’ll likely be disqualified and not welcome again.

The finish

  • High fives and sweaty hugs from us and our volunteers are out unfortunately (unless they’re your actual family)
  • The medals and goodies will be on a table for you to pick up. We wish we could place each medal round your neck but we can’t. Please move away from the immediate finish area as soon as you can, there is plenty of space outside on the school grounds for you to compose yourself.
  • We are likely to have a catering van/food at the finish, please ensure you are socially distancing here at all times.
  • Results will take a little longer for us to populate due to the rolling start, we’ll endeavour to get these online ASAP though.
  • Please don’t congregate on the course once you have finished, this makes social distancing harder.

These are not necessarily the complete set of rules and adjustments, potentially there may be amendments closer to the event as well. Ultimately we’ll be asking you to socially distance wherever possible and reduce touch points to a minimum. We take take this very seriously both personally and professionally. As distance runners most of us think we are somewhat invincible, and if you’ve run an ultra who knows what disease lurks in the bowl of jelly babies after a few hours! but this is different. It is clear that COVID isn’t particularly fussed by your parkrun PB and could wipe you out for 6 weeks or much much worse. We have a responsibility to you as runners, the communities we are based around and the wider running community to put on Covid-secure events and there will be sacrifices from all parties to ensure this happens.

Update 25/02/21

The roadmap out of lockdown has been released by the government and there is light at the end of the tunnel! Without wishing to be a complete downer on the situation thought we aren’t out of the “cancellation woods” yet. I am still waiting to see what UK Athletics has agreed with Department for Culture, Media and Sport with regards a return to events. Although I don’t permit my events through UKA or the TRA anymore it would be irresponsible (and potentially illegal) to put events on that contradict their agreement. Grassroots sports is allowed to return form March 28th with agreement from the National Governing Body. Hopefully they’ll get the message out to us all soon and I can be more confident events will happen and I’ll know what restrictions will be in place.

On a similar note just because government and UKA say events can happen doesn’t mean they will! The final piece of the puzzle is landowner permission. I’m in conversation with all of the landowners of upcoming events to ensure they haven’t local restrictions on events. More specifically Forestry England, Warwickshire and Northamptonshire County Councils will all have their own plans for events. I need to work within these plans.

So in summary, summer and autumn look nailed on to be back to events without issue but I’m optimistically cautious when it comes to spring. I’ll obviously fight for events to be on but these are relationships I want to keep and build on for many years so throwing a hissy fit if they say no won’t get any of us very far!! As always I’ll try and keep everyone updated as we move through and any cancellations will be able to to transfer to an event without an issue.

It’s a better message though!

A great day out!

The route will be signposted

Aid stations along the way

Full medical support

Bag drop at HQ (please use sparingly due to Covid)

All finishers will get a spectacular medal a Big Bear Beer, Cider or Apple Juice and flapjack.

Race HQ is at St Andrews Benn Primary School, Rugby, Warwickshire CV21 3NX.

St Andrews Benn Primary School is both the start and finish line (no faffing with cars or coaches!) but there is absolutely no parking here.

You will need to pay to park on the day. Competitors are strongly advised to park at Rugby Train station (an 800m walk to HQ) where the charge is only £2 for the whole day. If you're staying overnight you can park for only £9 for the whole weekend (correct at time of writing). There is absolutely no parking at HQ and street parking on the residential streets is prohibited too. We can't annoy the neighbours on the first event and any complaints regarding parking regarding you or your crew is likely to result in a DQ!

For those who don't/can't drive the start is 400m from Rugby Train station, a rarity for an ultra! Unfortunately, trains on a Sunday morning seem to not exist but there is a Premier Inn just round the corner meaning you could sleep 300m from the start line instead! We'll happily store a small overnight bag at the bag drop too if that's a concern.

The route starts in Rugby and goes along the Great Central Way, a local nature reserve. This 2 mile stretch will allow the field to spread out as the route takes you along the cycle path towards Draycote Water. You don’t actually go through the reservoir but instead head towards Thurlaston for the first checkpoint (and views of the water). Running along some roads and through some fields you get back on to the Route 41 cycle route.

After another quick country road section you're back on to an old railway line and a gravel cycle track to Birdingbury, aid station 2 and about 10 miles. Running out of Birdingbury along another country road you'll join the Grand Union Canal at Stockton Locks. Going down past the 8 locks that make up this part of the canal you'll stay on this wide picturesque canal all the way to Leamington Spa, with a stop at the Two Boats Inn for aid station 3 at mile 15. You continue along the Canal until you reach The Fusilers pub on the other side of the canal at mile 19. You head back the way you came visiting the same checkpoints back to the church and your well deserved medal!

If you are a local to the area, the route is about 80% of the route 41 cycle route from Rugby to Leamington Spa and then back to Rugby. For those not local expect a very beautiful scenic route across the Warwickshire countryside with excellent markings. The route is 60% trail 40% asphalt.

We're keeping it simple. We are working off a 4 mile an hour pace (15min/miles) and an overall race cut off of 10 hours. There will be a very hard cut off at 5 hours (13:15 regardless of start time) at the turn around point in Leamington Spa.

This might rule some people out. We apologise. We host many events that are truly inclusive in terms of pace, speed and distance. However, we have lots of moving parts with an event like this and so a cut off will be in place and will be enforced. Each checkpoint will have opening and closing windows. We'll release these details as we create the athlete pack with all the FAQs, but they will be based around our estimation of the quickest person being just over 4 hours and the cut off being 10 hours. If you think you'll run 40 miles in under 4 hours...wow.... and let us know!!

But whether you run, hike walk or crawl as long as you are on two feet and meet the cut offs then that is fine with us!

This event is cupless; there are several ways that you can get water/liquid in a 'cupless' race:

1. Carry a bottle with you (or hydration pack) Simply run and carry your bottle with you, we'll have water dispensers at the checkpoint allowing you to fill up when you need to. 2. The 'Bottle Table' Given the lapped nature of our events it is an easy fix for us to have a 'bottle table' for you to leave your bottles to pick up as you complete each lap. Labelling your bottle with your name would be a good idea as lots of people have similar (if not identical!) bottles. Once you've drunk all the drink you brought with you, you can have your bottle refilled from our water/squash/electrolytes. 3. Speed cups/ foldable cups Carry a speed cup or foldable plastic bottle with you to fill up at the aid station. Unlike a rigid plastic bottle it will fold up in your pocket when you are finished. And with a speed cup you can easily go between water and sports drinks.

These options may prevent you from getting a 2 hour marathon but will help you do a tiny bit to prevent unnecessary plastic wastage.


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