100 miles along the Thames Path is the goal. 28 hours time limit. Start in Richmond, finish in Oxford. A well marked trail that rarely leaves the riverside and obscenely well stocked checked points staffed by incredibly supportive volunteers mean that all the runners have to focus on is putting one foot in front of the other. And again. And again….
This year’s race broadly split into 2 halves – the first 51 miles to Henley, run on mainly well maintained paths, during a warm spring day with the promise of a cup of tea and hot meal at that checkpoint (just over 10 hours in) – before night time brought the rain and attempts to grind out the miles on increasingly rural paths. A brief detour through Reading town centre just as the beer festival was kicking out was perhaps the least scenic section, but at least there was only 40 miles to go!
Approaching the 71 mile checkpoint just before 2am, sole Strider Rich Gray was on course to beat last year’s 24:46 and feeling (relatively) good. However, a brief stop for tea and hot food became an hour’s stop that nearly finished the race there and then. Eventually getting going again around 3am (by which point the leaders had finished – only 29 miles ahead!), with renewed energy, the focus was on moving forward – little running, but every step getting closer to Oxford.
However, the stretch through to 85 miles proved too much, with no food going in and the pace completely slowed, he had to call it a day (it nearly was by then…). Around 180 finishers from the field of 260 (plus over 100 volunteers, and support from runners’ friends and family), this really is a great event that grows more popular (and sells out quicker!) each year. [Rich]