Another early start after a somewhat musical night sleeping next to Theodore. The Twins are now five months. My “Bed buddy” is Theodore whose cot is right by my side whilst his brother George sleeps adjacent to my wife. Four of us in one bedroom makes for eventful nights pretty much every night. Last night Theodore decided to brush his dummy along the bars of his cot like some sort of xylophone. A continuous activity throughout the night. I have 1 month left of this luxury before Theodore and his brother move into their own room! Good news I am running an ultra-marathon today.
The Thames Trot Ultra is a 47ish mile race along the Thames path from Oxford to Henley on Thames just east of Reading. Organised by Go beyond Ultra and dishing out a few UTMB qualifying points, I turned up to this one rather apprehensive.
Parking the car at Reading and taking the first train to Oxford on a cold winter morning I quickly realised that I was not alone in my logistics planning with other runners doing the same. A free shuttle bus put on by the event organisers when arriving at Oxford station took us all to registration. At the finish we would only need take a short train journey from Henley to Reading. I would recommend this logistical plan to anyone signing up for this race.
This would be the furthest distance I had run to date if I finished the race. And with the dreary hangover that sleep deprivation provides I was rather nervous.
The start of the race is at a pub. After registering I took the weight off my feet immediately. I was going to be standing for the majority of the day. After a quick race briefing we were off. 10 miles of slippery, boggy Thames path greeted us until the first checkpoint. Quite a lonely race, I didn’t click or strike up conversation with anyone whilst running this one. Just after marathon distance the headphones went in. With Elton’s live version of Benny and the Jets on the duke box my pace quickened whilst my own rock concert was playing around in my head. Passing a few drop outs at CP3 I started to feel fatigued but wanted to keep the pace to avoid as many miles in darkness as possible. The last 6km were done with the head torch and it was clear how pathetic mine was compared to every other runner I came into contact with, their light sources dwarfing mine to redundancy when running as part of a pack. A strong finish and a reserved time of 9hrs 31mins after a long day with a muddy Thames path. In hindsight I could have pushed a bit harder on this one and I think the finish photo has a glare off “Ohh, have I finished already?” about it!
Enjoyable race once I came to terms with the mud. The aid stations are limited on the variety, but this is forgiven due to the famous GO Beyond cake that is served at every station. This was pretty much all I was eating at each one.
Tips: Invest in decent kit the first time. I have spent well over what I have needed to by getting bog standard gear only to regret it and getting proper stuff the second time round.
If doing it without a support crew park the car at Reading. This will cut down the logistics time at the end of the race.
The Thames Trot is now held in October rather than February when I ran it. I recon this is probably quite a nice fast course that time of year with a little less mud.