by Nicky Chrascina
2 weeks ago I did the Thames TroT - a 50 mile run along the Thames path from Iffley, near Oxford, to Henley on Thames. There is a strict 11 hour limit with 5 progressive cut offs at the CPs. Simple. Nice and flat along a path I hear you say. Wrong!
Around 200 of us set off at 8;30 on what promised to be a sunny day. Lovely running weather. Unfortunately, the 2 weeks on the run up to the race had been very wet. We hit the actual Thames path after 400m of tarmac and were automatically greeted with a nice slippery mess. It made the going slow, difficult and very unpleasant. The path is narrow with bushes on either side, so there was nowhere to escape too, or any dry firm ground to run on. This lasted for around 20 miles with only a few short sections of respite!
There are no race marshalls apart from at CPs and no course markers. It is your own responsibility to follow the acorn signs and not get lost. I went wrong a couple of times briefly, but luckily realised quickly and got straight back on course after asking for directions.
We ran through Goring, and George Michaels river side home, which is currently festooned with flowers, teddies, posters and other tokens of love!
The course is mainly flat with a couple of short sharp hills. The terrain varies from muddy paths, fields, tracks, minor roads and parkland. It is pretty varied, with enough to keep the bran active all day.
At CP4 (mile 37)I changed into clean shoes and socks and learned that around 25 runners had bailed - mainly due to the mud. Our own Mags unfortunately being one of these. Not sure if it was having dry foot wear, but I got a second wind and really enjoyed running for the remaining 13 or so miles. Terrain was much easier, it was getting dark (I like solitary night running) and I was enjoying myself - oddly. I gave myself a bit of a fright by coming into CP5 with only 5 mins to spare, having overtaken around 15 people. Unfortunately I was the last person to actually 'make this CP and everyone not yet through was withdrawn from the race. The last few miles were along a firm track through fields. It was nice seeing head torch lights flickering and working there way along the track. I caught up with 6 or 7 guys. Had a brief chat and trotted off on my way, feeling strong.
I managed to come in with 22 minutes before the final cut off. All in all, apart from the first 20 or so miles, I really enjoyed the day. This is the second time I have completed this race and would do it again.