RABID LAUGHING BADGERS: Brighton Rockers v the Warrior Run (2015 Edition)

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“It was the scorpion pit that broke me,” she tells us, a hollow-eyed look of fear washing over her face as she recalls that horrific day: 30th March 2014. This is no mere civilian we’re talking to, but one of an elite force, a hardy breed of Warrior Women who have faced terrifying enemies (particularly Scottish ones) and seen unspeakable things (zebras dancing – dancing, for the love of God!). Yet nothing quite matches what this unnamed Brighton roller skater went through on that sunny spring Sunday last year. “There was, like, this big ball of barbed wire,” she blusters, “about 50 metres square. We had to crawl through that while people threw stinging nettles at us. Then a sheer cliff face with jets of fire coming out of it, which we had to scramble down as buckets full of piranhas were emptied over our heads. There was a bit with landmines in next – I don’t know how they got that one past Health & Safety – then the cages full of rabid laughing badgers. It was just torture. I don’t know why I put myself through it. Complete madness.” So why are you doing the whole thing again this year? “For the Rockers. For the sport. For the glory of Sontar. Surely this is worth a tenner – a measly fiver, even – from the people reading this? Surely?” And what about the scorpions? “Oh, Bash will probably just bite all their tails off like she did last year, but still… DONATE, PEOPLE, YEAH? DONATE!”

Yep, it’s that time of year again. This Sunday (19th April) the Brighton Rockers face a rematch with one of their toughest opponents of 2014, the Warrior Run. This race in the Sussex countryside features copious mud, water, sharpened gravel, scorpions (apparently) and over 50 challenging obstacles across a seven kilometre course. More Rockers than ever are taking part this year, the crazy madhead loons. They’re putting themselves through this frankly hellish race in order to raise funds to keep the Brighton Rockers roller derby league on track. Although the initial £750 target has been passed, we strongly advise anyone reading this who hasn’t already to CLICK HERE TO DONATE (YOU KNOW YOU WANT TO) Then you won’t feel quite so bad about being sat on the beach drinking Prosecco and listening to Simply Red MP3s on Sunday, whilst eleven Rockers souls are up to their necks (foreheads for the shorter ones) in mud and scorpions…

Last year’s Warrior Run saw The Mighty Mighty Bash, Rose Bleed, Racey and Emma The Condemner (Team Black) take on Chaka Carnage, Shambolic, Kapow, Enyo Face and Chariot Sophia (Team Blue). How many of those nine are taking part this time around, and who else is competing for the Rockers this year?
CHAKA CARNAGE: “We’ve tried to scrape together as many of the same team members as last time, but due to some people preferring to have babies or swan off travelling the world, we’ve lost a few. Racey has got her hands full with her beautiful baby boy, but plans to watch us from the sidelines looking smug. Shambolic is in Australia, but she has agreed to do a skydive on the same day! The absences have made way for some new faces in both teams. Polly Dartin’ and Irish Mist will be joining me on the winning (I mean Blue) team, alongside Sophia and Enyo. We have a special guest runner too – the lovely ex Rockers jammer Scar Wilde, who is a former Sussex county level sprinter. Let’s just hope she doesn’t sprint off leaving us all in a cloud of dust! Team Black consists of Bash, Rose and Emma, plus two Lauras from Finland (Girl Tower and Harriet Hotter). I’m excited about the day. I’m trying to banish any memories from last year of the freezing river, burning monkey bar arms and impossible tyre lifts, and trying to concentrate on the good stuff like crossing the finish line.”

For those that took part last year, is there anything you learned from the experience that has changed the way you prepared for this ‘rematch’?
EMMA THE CONDEMNER: “From taking part in 2014, I learned that it is actually quite fun. I was dreading it and didn’t think I would be able to complete any of the obstacles. However, the only things I couldn’t manage were the monkey bars and rope climbs. Since then I have gotten much better at rope climbs by doing a few aerial/trapeze classes. I’m still not too hopeful re the monkey bars though! This year? I guess I’m looking forward to it, in a strange kind of way.”

Are there any particular roller derby skills that will be useful on the Warrior Run? What special training have you done for the event?
IRISH MIST: “Roller derby equips you with skills for life, eg positional blocking in the supermarket and jamming practice walking down the seafront. We’re used to working as a team, communicating in our packs, never leaving a blocker behind. We do know that Team Black have been concentrating on cake eating training! Team Blue have got a team of superheroes, including someone to rival The Flash and a radiation worker who really likes purple and green. Team Black can watch our Secret Superhero Super Tactics, as we race away from them as Lead Warriors.”

The Rockers have hit their initial £750 fundraising target, and are now hoping to make four figures. What sort of things will this money go towards?
SKATE BUSH: “The money is going to keep Brighton Rockers rocking! We will use it to continue training our current skaters; to advertise for and train new skaters; to host games in the local area for people to enjoy; and it will enable us to continue supporting local charities and community events. Roller derby is awesome. By joining the team you make loads of new friends and become part of a support system. Playing derby helps improve strength and fitness, builds confidence, self esteem and is really good fun! Everyone know that the Rockers have an incredible ethos of local community engagement. We support loads of local events – like Brighton Pride, Brighton Festival/Fringe and TAKEPART – as well fundraising for other local charities throughout the year. This money will help us continue to be able to do all of this and much more!”

Finally, which side is going to record the best Warrior Run time out of Teams Blue and Black?
THE MIGHTY MIGHTY BASH: “Team Black! I know I’ve been eating a lot of cake and my trainers have been gathering dust, but ask anyone on the Brighton Rockers who is the most competitive and I think they’ll all reply ‘Bash’. I’m not really a fan of losing at ANYTHING. Plus I’ve been telling my team to up their training and run regularly since February. I don’t think they know I haven’t quite been doing it too, so I’m going to have to pretend that I’m not out of practice on the day. Chaka Carnage is a good friend of mine, and I absolutely have to beat her AGAIN this year. I may need a lie down – and my volumatic with a couple of inhalers – at the finish line, but I’ll try everything to stay in the lead with my team.”

OTHER BRIGHTON ROCKERS EVENTS
Uh, we were originally joking when we said we likely wouldn’t get our report on Brighton’s recent-ish British Champs game against Bristol in Southend online until May, but… It will be up soon, promise! The Rockers are back in Champs action in Bristol itself on May 9th, when they take on divisional leaders Royal Windsor. Tickets are on sale now and there may be a Rockers Party Bus (with space for some supporters) to the game. We’ll have more details and a full preview of that on here soon. The league also have a non-Champs game at Haywards Heath on May 23rd. Here they’ll be facing up against the very highly ranked Hot Wheel Roller Derby from Leeds. The game is part of the Brighton Fringe festival and tickets are selling fast, so snap yours up as soon as you can. PS The Dolphin is a scorpion-free venue. Heck, we’ve never even seen the supposed dolphin…

DONATE TO THE WARRIOR RUN FUNDRAISING HERE:
https://crowdfunding.justgiving.com/BrightonRockers

BUY TICKETS FOR THE MAY 23RD HOME GAME HERE:
http://ticketing.brightonfringe.org/events-and-film/9045/live-roller-derby-brighton-rockers

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Blue v Black: Warrior Run preview

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The Rockers are in action this Sunday (30th March) but not on skates and not on the derby track. Ten Brighton players are taking part in the Warrior Run, a daunting obstacle course race in the Sussex countryside. Divided into two teams of five – Team Black and Team Blue – the Rockers participants are looking for donations in exchange for the torture they will be putting themselves through. All money raised will go towards the upkeep and development of the Brighton derby league, and you can donate at the link below.

https://www.justgiving.com/yimby/brightonrockersrollerderby

To make things more interesting for donators, we suggest you choose one of the two teams to back, then find a friend who wants to back the other team – if you can’t find such a friend, maybe see if anyone on Facebook (on the BRATS or Rockers page) is interested. You can then combine your donations in the form of a ‘wager’. For example, Bob thinks Team Black will triumph and his friend Kate reckons Team Blue will be victorious. Instead of donating £10 each, Bob makes a donation of £20 using his bank card. Kate gives him £20 cash. If Team Black wins, Bob keeps Kate’s money – she has effectively paid for both of them (her cash covering Bob’s card payment). If, on the other hand, Team Blue are the victors, Bob gives Kate her cash back and his card payment pays for both of them.

Keep an eye on the Brighton Rockers Facebook/Twitter to find out who wins. The victorious team is the one that finishes the race in the quickest time (which is either the total or average of all five on the team’s finishing times). In the almost impossible event of a dead heat, Bob would give Kate half her cash back and they’d go halves on the donation. So which team should you back? We’ve spoken to members of both Team Black and Team Blue to find out why they believe they’re going to be the Brighton Rockers Warrior Run Champions…

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RACEY – TEAM BLACK

You’re taking part in this weekend’s Warrior Run to raise money for the league. What exactly is it, and what kind of things will the money collected go towards?
Warrior Run is a torture field in the South Downs which is filled with muddy army-style obstacles interspersed with the Rockers most hated of all exercise – running. We are raising money to basically keep the league operating and to try and recruit more members. We’re entirely self-funded, and since losing our training and bouting venue to developers last year, paying for practice space is becoming more and more demanding on the purse strings. We get so much positive feedback from women (skaters and non-skaters alike) on how they are motivated and inspired to get involved in sport after watching us play, and we really want to make the most of that and help get more women on eight wheels.

Do you know much about what to expect from Sunday’s course. From their website there seems to be a lot of climbing, carrying tree trunks and wading through mud involved. What elements are you most looking forward to, and which are you dreading?

I am most looking forward to the mud. I love mud. My main aim is to hurl as much mud at Chaka Carnage as possible, preferably while she is struggling over an obstacle, even at the detriment of my own team. The rope climb looks killer, and I’ve heard that if you can’t climb it you have to just dangle from it for punishment – the shame.

There will be both individual and team times for the race. How are you hoping to do individually? Have you been doing any special training?
I’m not going to kid myself; I’m not the best runner in the world, so I’m not expecting to break any records, but I will be going all out. My competitive side will kick in once I get going and I reckon I’ll do pretty well on the strength obstacles. I’ve been running most days to try and get used to the distance, and I’ve been sticking with my gym routine so I’m ready for it. Team Black is pretty kick arse – I think we have the edge over Team Blue in strength and utter dick-ish competitiveness.

Who else is on Team Black, and what particular skills do they each bring?

We have Rose Bleed who is jumpy and nippy; Emma the Condemner who can charge like an NFL player; Scare Hostess who is nimble and catty, and The Mighty Mighty Bash who is pure muscle and mental strength (and can carry us if we get tired). Sorted.

Your rivals on Team Blue have a steely line-up too. What are you expecting from them, individually and as a team?
The trash talk has already begun between us and I’m not gonna stop now! I’m expecting a lot of moaning, whinging, crying and allegations of cheating from Team Blue when they cross the finish line after us.

If people are choosing one team to back, why should they pick Team Black to triumph over Team Blue?
Team Black will be sporting the ugliest leggings, which are likely to turn sheer and saggy-crutched when wet; hence we’ll be quicker to finish in order to lessen the public humiliation. We’re a shoe in.

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KAPOW! – TEAM BLUE

Can you tell us a little of what you know about the Warrior Run ahead of Sunday’s race, and what sort of things the money you raise will go towards?
There are lots of reviews and videos showing people starting off in their clean clothes looking full of energy and finishing the complete opposite – knackered and covered in mud! There will be muddy tunnels to crawl through, string mazes like they had on 90s TV show Gladiators, massive walls to get over, monkey bars and more. I’m pretty sure that all the ladies taking part in the run dislike running – some might even say hate – but we’re all doing it for the love of the team. The money raised will be going towards things such as training up newbies, putting on bouts for the public to watch, bringing in guest coaches and sending the team off to represent Brighton when playing other teams around the country.

The Warrior Run website features lots of scary photos of mud, ropes, people carrying tyres through minefields (possibly not minefields), etc. What obstacles are you most and least looking forward to?
Ohhhhhh! I saw that there are monkey bars that are really high up. This makes me nervous, as there was an unfortunate incident where I got stuck up one when I was about four. I haven’t been on them since then. There doesn’t seem to be a ladder to get up so I’m not even sure if I’ll be able to reach it… I am super excited about rolling around in mud though – never need an excuse to get muddy!

How are you hoping to do, time-wise? Have you been doing any special training – individually or as a group – to prepare for the event?
Time-wise is really tough to say, but as long as it’s faster than Team Black I will be happy! I’ve been going for runs up to the golf course and through the woods to practice muddy terrain and hills. There are lots of dog walkers up there though, so I usually end up running away from chasing dogs. As a team we have been going to CrossFit. I think that will really help us because the Warrior Run requires a lot of strength as well as stamina.

Who else is on Team Blue, what specific skills do they bring to the team, and which aspects do you think each team member will be best at?
Shambolic is the ultimate climber; she’ll be scaling the giant walls before Team Black manage to blink. Chariot Sophia, small and mighty, will have loads of extra energy to tell us jokes and keep spirits high when we are up to our eyeballs in mud and tears. Chaka Carnage is ferocious and tall – the rest of Team Blue are vertically challenged so she’ll no doubt be helping to get us over the big walls. Enyo Face with the smile that will melt hearts is our secret weapon – she’ll make allies of other racers out on the field; allies who will slow down the enemy.

What kind of a showing do you expect from your opponents Team Black? As individuals, how do you think they’ll each fare?
Honestly I think it’s going to be really close on the day. Team Black will certainly be tough competition and definitely don’t want to cross the line after us. I have heard on the grapevine that Emma the Condemner has been training hard and running lots. The run will be fine for her but what about the obstacles? Bash is a frequent CrossFit attendee and this will work hugely in her favour. I also believe that she is a bit competitive… in fact if you check certain dictionaries you might see a photo of her in the definition. Racey – Racey by name, racey by nature haha! I believe she is training for a marathon so the running part might be OK, but again we’ll see how she is wading through water. Rose has been heard joking that her team mates will need to piggyback her across the finish line but I think it’s all a ruse. Also she is notorious for having not a hair out of place after a bout – let’s see how she fairs after this. Scare Hostess has kept her training programme secret, so will possibly be Team Black’s secret weapon.

If someone was going to ‘bet’ on one team of the two, what reasons can you give to back Team Blue to triumph over Team Black?
Have you seen who’s in our team?! We have all been working super hard to get ready for this run, and have got ourselves some snazzy trainers with speed stripes on them… not to mention amazing leggings. You won’t be seeing any of us get stuck in the mud!

[Skater photos by Richard Hanson & John Hesse]

LINKS

DONATIONS: https://www.justgiving.com/yimby/brightonrockersrollerderby
WARRIOR RUN: http://warrior-run.co.uk/
BRIGHTON ROCKERS: http://www.brightonrockers.com