On the 2nd Feb 2014, despite several course alterations in the week leading up to the Thames Trot Ultra (planned 50 miles) and changes on the morning Alastair, Ian and Ashley found themselves setting out on a long run early in the morning from Oxford to Henley with another hundred or so Camelbak wearing running geeks (pain-junkies) each clinging to a waterproof copy of the run course hoping she/he wouldn’t need it. The race was originally planned to follow the Thames Path, but as a result of the deluge that the south of England has suffered these past few months the Thames valley was for the most part flooded and the path submerged under the fast flowing if not torrential in places Thames river.
Being an ultra-marathon there is a deep sense of camaraderie and friendliness amongst the participants as one navigates the re-routes across farmer’s fields, all manner of roads and woodland. As hinted the course was varied at times placing runners shin deep in mud, wading through icy water in hundred metre stretches that leave the feet numb and other times along roads (some quiet, some busy). The ultra-runners camaraderie meant at several junctions, fences or swamped paths several runners convene to agree on the most likely direction the course follows, allowing several others to catch up and benefit from the decision making process.
A big shout out to Mark Saunders for meeting up to cheer on the Basingstoke Tri Squad trio at Goring and shouting out at encouragement. Although some were tempted to try see if we’re possible to steal his bike while he wasn’t looking!
Along the course there were several scenes that seemed reminiscent of the movies ‘Platoon’ or ‘Forest Gump’ with wading through rice paddies. Only the absence of an M16 assault rifle hinting this was a fun event that everyone had opted for. Fun did at times seems to become inconspicuous, since it became impossible to separate the difference in discomfort (aka pain) when running from walking. Generally this runner opting to run.
Alastair non-surprisingly proved himself to be an incredibly ultra runner blazing through the course and field in 7h30! Leaving Ian hardly out of breath as the second Tri squaddie and Ashley straggling up the back (with a strong note to self to take things more seriously next time).
At the end for each: 1 ultra finish, n deeply enjoyed beers, 1 hard earned club championship point each and 3 pairs of stiff legs on Sunday.