I’m looking forward to Go Beyond Sport’s Thames Trot 50. I’ve not ran in a ultra since August last year and has work hard during the winter so is looking forward to racing. The course profile is flat following the Thames footpath from Iffley to Henley-on-Thames and although the course is not marked the way markers and course is easy to follow.
The weather forecast for the race is wet and windy and we have been briefed that the course is very muddy. Leaving the comfort and very cosy start line at Hawkwell House Hotel we were soon introduced to mud sliding. Now for those of you who are unfamiliar with mud sliding that is when trail running becomes less running and more “ice skating” with the difference that there’s no ice. No solid footing, a test for your core muscles to see if they can keep you upright. As horrendous as it might sound to you I don’t mind mud sliding.
It started to rain. The pictures scenery seem to become even more beautiful. Every step was worthwhile until the wind came up. The chatting stopped! It was head down battling straight into the wind. I don’t mind mud and I don’t mind rain but I was not enjoying the wind. It was (wo)man vs. nature! The open river banks offered no shelter. There was no escape from the wind. Not only was I slipping and sliding but it felt as if I was moving backwards. The checkpoints was a welcome relief. It didn’t offer any shelter but the friendly marshals gave you new energy.
My race plan was to check my fitness level to determine if I’m on track for my bigger races later in the year but I found this race more of a battle against Mother Nature than a test of my fitness. It was suppose to be a training run. My ultra demons was coming out. I can’t afford an injury. The demons was telling me that things hurt and although I admit “yes I had bits of my body which has felt better I wasn’t dying”. If you’ve ever ran an ultra before you will know if your mind is not in it, forcing yourself to run is hard. Mile after mile I kept telling myself it’s not that bad but the reality was I wasn’t having any fun! I run ultras for fun and personal achievement. To have an enjoyable experience in nature! But today I was not enjoying the experience. I was over halfway but decided to call it day. I had enough! Today Mother Nature won!
Difficulty level: Easy/Moderate. Despite being flat the weather plays a big roll in the underfoot.
Organisation: Very good
Course markings: Although there are no spesific course markings there are plenty of Thames footpath way markers and it’s a very easy route to follow
Overall: I will highly recommend this race for runners who want to start their running season early as well as to newbies who want to try out ultra running. But do check the weather before hand as winter flooding has a big influance on the course.