THAMES PATH ONE HUNDRED 2014




The Centurion Thames Path 100, 3rd annual race is a point to point trail, from Richmond On Thames, London to Oxford. Capturing some of the most scenic riverside life along the thames. 
Today is my 2nd attempt running the 100 miler event. This year the date is later, rather than late March like previous years. The conditions have been good, but severe flooding has still caused route diversions in places...


 Another race and another Travelodge

After a good nights sleep in Teddington, a few miles away, myself and Sunday meet ultra runner Shawn Timmons outside at 7:30am. Helen is part of my crew today and is our driver to the start in Richmond. 

Last night was the best sleep I have had all week, as I have started a new set of earlies at work. 

Which I have not adjusted to yet. 

For 5 days, waking up at the stupid hour of 2:00am.... so I really am not sure how this will effect my performance today...


Andy, Myself and Shawn

Arriving in good time Helen drops us at the town hall, so we can register and do our bag check. The same location as last year, so all familiar to me. 

A warm welcome from lovely Nici Griffin and then chat to James Elson before kit check. A new feature of a token to show the kit has been checked before I collect my number. 


Myself, Mark and Shawn 

Catching up with Bosh runners Andy Nuttall, Mark Griffiths and then meeting Tremayne Dill Cowdry officially for the first time. We chat about future races and how we plan on running today. Mark hasn't been training so much due to some injuries but is still positive and looking forward to today.

Race Briefing. Just a few hundred happy and nervous runners
 
Some 250 runners squeeze in for the race briefing at 9:30. Some of the route is closed off to flooding (again) so James explains these areas in detail. 

Today I am attempting to start the Grand Slam for 2014. All four Centurion 100 miler races.


Race brief at Richmond Town Hall

All smiles waiting for the start

Making our way out to the river side and start. I speak to a few other runners who remember me from previous events and twitter. I then locate Sunday and Helen, waiting with anticipation. I wish Shawn all the best and to enjoy the day. 

Going for Salomon trails today
Kitted out and ready to go 


With seconds to go, the sun shining down, a cool breeze, just a perfect start to the day...


The Start (photo by Francis Tilley)


Just 100 miles to go... (photo by Francis Tilley)


I stay with a big group and aware to keep my pace down to a 9:00min/mile stride for the best part of 50 miles. I will see how I feel after this, perhaps pick up the pace after then...

Although the breeze is cooler, the sun is warmer up quickly and with low humidity I feel more thirsty than usual. The route is dry with just some mud in places. 
 

Hampton Court Palace, East Molesey

I chat to ultra runner Paul Ali about my first Viking Way ultra and his races for the year ahead. As usual he is very positive and happy, taking it steady. 

After 12 miles in and past the first check point, the route diverts over a bridge and away from the thames. I follow the runners ahead, then notice it is a private road. I turn back and then see Paul running ahead. He knows the way, I will follow him... 

Soon enough the route turns back along the river.

The legend Paul Ali on the right

Runnymeade park 

Memories from last year, I get flash backs along the route, as I pass familiar key areas and locks. After 3 hours running I take an S!Cap tablet and a shot of olive oil for the fat burning tank. 

Approaching Wraysbury I can see and hear my crew from ahead. It is good to see everyone and their excitement is very uplifting, even if I am feeling tired already...

I have some water, and check I have enough on me until the next check point. A few sips of BPC and some coconut water from my crew supply. 

Hugs and goodbyes I head back down through the park.


The ultra team at Wraysbury 22 miles

I text my family how I am doing and where I am so far in the race.

I turn on my podcast and listen to some Vinnie, that always picks me up and distracts me from my fatigue. 

Cookham

The route feels too familiar, yet with summer like conditions, compared to last year, in the cold, sleet and wet. 

I get into a smooth pace and follow a road too far, before realizing I have gone off the track. I turn back to see where I missed the red tape in the trees. 

Lots of lumpy grass, leaves, woodland and then tow path occupy the section to the next aid station in Cookham. 

Coming into Cookham 33 miles

Already my legs feel like I have run a hundred miles, but I have only covered 30.... 

Today is going to be a long day....

I sip on some coconut water and coffee I have in my Salomon flasks already, a babybel cheese and another S!Cap tablet. My pace is a steady 8:30-8:45min/mile. It feels ok but not as comfortable as usual at this current distance. 

I start to feel every slight niggle and nag in my feet and ankles. The knees, however, after all the previous years of troubles are feeling great... 

After a long quiet spell down through the shaded trees, the familiar route looks so different in bright sunlight, compared to last year in the cold wet, sleet, then darkness. 

I go through what was the check point from last year, at Windsor and the finish area. Running under the bridge, which was a flooded Thames, is now a stoned trail and dry as can be.

The sun seems to be warming up the ground and the air feels dry and still. I feel rather overheated and more thirsty than usual. It is impossible to feel acclimatised to the barmy English weather of late.


Just one of the many sights along the Thames today 


Soon enough the trail leads to a country lane then into Cookham Village. My memory serves me well, as I know which turn is through the graveyard, the kissing gate and then along the river to the next aid station. Another runner follows me who was heading the wrong way down a private road. 

I can see Helen, Sunday, Will and Jay just by the Centurion flags up ahead. Cheering and clapping as I reach them. I check in with the race team and refill my water by the wonderful Bridgette. I have lost count how many times she has helped me at an event. A Centurion 100 mile race would not be the same without seeing her along the route. She asks how I am doing, which I reply 'my ankle is angry', 'well it is not like you done much recently is it Luke' she fires back to me, with a cheeky grin.

I have some melon and cherry tomatoes before giving Bridgette a hug goodbye, thanking the team as I leave. I check in with my ultra crew and have some more BPC. Will updates me with my position, I have moved from 37 up to 18th place. 

I am unsure whether I can keep on over taking the front pack runners. The same discomfort from my previous race is persistent in my ankle again. I try to not over think things through and get back into my pace. 


Coming into Henley

The route is very scenic and dotted with much activity along the river, picnics, walkers, drinkers in the pub gardens, dogs playing and kids on bikes. It feels like the perfect English garden. Usually I would feel so grateful, yet now I just want to stop and call it a day. 

I reach the next tree, or bridge, landmark, anything to distract me from my tired legs and body. The ankle is getting more and more angry with each step. 

A running dog charges at me, hitting my bad foot and nearly sending me flying over! I manage to catch myself and then through the next gate a passing spectator taps me on my shoulder. I have my headphones in so did not hear the shouts from behind me! I thank him and turn back, I have missed the turning over the river. I can then see a runner shouting my name on top of the bridge and waving. It looks like Paul. 

I soon cross the bridge and then catch up, It was Paul. I thank him for the heads up. Yet another error.  

No matter how many races I run I think I am cursed in wrong turns and adding bonus miles!

Henley on Thames half way aid station

I chat with Paul a moment before heading on ahead, keeping my head down. 

I soon pick up my pace slightly, although I am not sure how. On auto-pilot but with the dull ache in my ankle, words pop into my head how I am not ready to run 100 miles yet, I need to recover fully and rest that ankle good and proper....

The long and straight tow path leading to Henley-On-Thames is painful on the mind and the miles feel like hours ticking by. I can see a few odd runners in front and they are clearer in my vision as I approach nearer to them. 

Soon enough I recognise the flags and a small gazebo tent in the nearby field. Half way at Henley has finally arrived. 51 miles covered.

Time for shoe change and maybe some ice if possible. 

I see Karen, a fellow Bosh runner and volunteer at The Viking Way a few weeks ago. She greats me with congratulations and a hug. I grab a hot black coffee and my drop box, then head over to the bench on the waterside to meet my crew.

It feels so good to get the shoes off and put my ankle up for a moment.

More coffee 

I refuel from my goody supplies in my drop box, have some espresso chocolate coffee beans and reflect on the next 50 miles to come....

Sitting with ice (thanks to the medic) over my sore and now swollen ankle, I seriously consider the consequences of continuing through to the next check point. After too long sitting down, I get up and shuffle back along the path towards the next bridge. 

The ankle feels so tight now and is really not comfortable to run on anymore. 
I stop on the bridge, less than half a mile away, turn around and call Sunday. 

Walking back to Henley, I decide to call it a day....


With my drop box in deep thought about continuing further

I tried. Today was not a racing day for me, I felt fatigued from the start and to get to half way with my nagging ankle and my body spent was such a struggle as it is...

I figured I have the South Downs Way 100 in six weeks time, a race I have missed the last two years, and a local event I really have my heart set on to run. 

Rest. Recover and repeat...


The first 51 miles of the Thames Path

Andy later successfully finishes his 2nd 100 miler race, as does Shawn too.

Sadly Mark doesn't make it past the Reading check point in time.

Thank you to my fantastic team who crewed me for the day today. Helen, Sunday, Will and Jay. Will did splendid again following and tweeting my route progress from the Runkeeper Live feed. 





Cheers to Team Centurion




Thank you to all my friends, running groups and family for the support and words of encouragement. Thank you for following the show...

I would like to pay special thanks to all the volunteers, support, medics and team Centurion involved in making this weekend possible for all the runners involved. 

Many long, working hours are spent all through the cold night to attend to our every need. The help and support from these very special individuals is astounding at every event and every year.

You are all amazing and I raise my glass to you all. Thank you.



The Salomon fellraiser shoes are a little too snug over a 50 mile distance, and I couldn't wait to change into my Merrell Trails for more comfort.

A few days after the event my big toe nail got very bruised and swollen, with a blood blister underneath. I rarely get these and forgot how uncomfortable and painful they can be... 

It later went septic and 10 days later is still healing very slowly...




Ultra Luke


8 comments:

  1. You did your best 50+ miles is still fabulous in my book....BUT you need to give yourself enough recovery time between races so you can continue to be the most special Ultra Runner I know :-) x

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    1. Haha.... I recognize those socks anywhere! Thank you H x

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  2. Thanks for a great report. Noticed that you were using the new salomon race vest with soft bottles. Have read elsewere comments that they dont really fit that great in the new mesh pockets. That they either fall down or fall out. Whats your opinion? Thanks!

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    1. Hi, well I think they fit snug when full, once you start drinking they deflate and sink into the pockets. They are useful for hot and cold liquid but another brand, plastic flask in similar size would fit too!

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  3. Very well done Luke, very nice race report,

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Please add your comments here. I would like to encourage discussion on running, training and nutrition. Luke