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


“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.”

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…