Tuesday, 21st March 2023
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Pip does the Thames Trot with a bit of help from his friends

by RunningPip
Friday 26th February 2016
This is the third time I have run the Thames Trot.  In 2014, the Thames path was mostly flooded, and the race diverted to roads close to the river.  Last year, it was freezing cold first thing, and as the path was frozen, the mud stayed solid until about lunchtime.  This year, it was neither flooded nor frozen, it was just muddy.  Really very muddy, for the best part of 50 miles.
The first 500 yards of the race, from the Hawkshead hotel in Iffley was quite nice.  A gentle jog along the road, but as soon as the 300 odd runners crossed the river and hit the Thames Path, it started to get a bit messy.  It was muddy from the start, ‘one step forward, two slides sideways’ type of running.  Normally at the start of a race there is a fair amount of chat, banter and general conversations as people settle into the race – this one was really quiet, and the banter appeared to be missing from this race, as people dug in straight from the start.  Either that or it was so windy that any chat was blown away and I couldn’t hear it.  I ran the first section with the Run247 editor Kirsty, and it was great to catch up with her as we slid along the first 10 miles or so.
This is my local race, and as I approached Clifton Hampden, my friend Ingeborg came out to meet us.  She ran with me from Clifton, where she lives, to Wallingford, where I live.  The path at this point is quite exposed, and as we crossed the river and headed towards Days Lock, the wind was blowing quite fiercely.  Blowing so hard the river had proper waves on it, which I have never seen before.

Trot 3

The wind was a good excuse to walk for a bit – honestly, you couldn’t run into that, and walking was just as fast I think.
Inge took me to Wallingford, where my family was out to support me.  Well, they had walked half a mile from my house to watch me come past.  This put a smile back on my face and I slid off towards Streatley.  My friend Rob lives there, and he came out to run the second half of the race with me.  I would have dropped out if he hadn’t wanted the run, as by this point my achy knees were aching a lot, and to be honest, with the conditions as they were, it was misery running out there.  Wet, muddy and windy, it wasn’t the nicest run I’ve ever done, and it was only the company that kept me going.  The mud kept on coming, and I found that my knees hurt most when changing speeds.  Once I was in a trot, the pain was manageable.  Slowing down or walking through a stile or gate, or stopping at a checkpoint to fill up with water, then starting to run again was agony.
As he has on several occasions now, Rob carried me through the last 10 miles, and we squelched along the path towards Reading, dragged our way through the boring bit past Tescos, and then the shoe stealing sticky clay near Shiplake, to finally get to the bandstand in Henley.  I finished 20 seconds slower than last year, which considering the conditions, I’ll take as an improvement.
After a nice cup of tea, we drove Rob home, and it took about 20 minutes to get the mud of my legs and feet.  Another lovely race, although I tricky one in Vibram Five Fingers, even ones called ‘Mud Runners’.

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