Race Reports

Thames Path 100 – 2016 Race Report

Written by kjhughes

I really didn’t want to be writing this AGAIN. However, after another STUPID mistake I find myself recording another DNF at the Thames Path 100…

I’m writing this 11 months after the event. Having spent a few weeks consumed with self loathing and in awe of how stupid I was, I then simply lost interest in writing a race report for it. It is only now as we’re a few weeks away from the 2017 running of the event that I’ve got round to it.
I’m writing this mostly to relive the situation and sequence of events and through that, hopefully not make the same mistake again.

In a nutshell, winter training went okay till about Feb, but after that two things  didn’t got to plan:

  • Training was sporadic at best in the 2 months before the event (medical issue)
  • First half took about an hour longer than I wanted/expected (bad patch from 25m -> 32m)

Those two items were annoying but were just hurdles that meant I was not going to get a sub 24 finish. The sporadic training was likely the reason for the bad patch and therefore the reason for being an hour behind schedule at half way.
Even with these setbacks I made decent time from half way to the Reading checkpoint at about 60 miles. It was from here that things took a turn for the worse and that resulted in the DNF.

From Reading the route stays by the river for a good bit of the next 8 or 9 miles to Pangbourne. It was around 11pm as I left Reading and it was getting colder, with a freezing fog settling over the river and the banks. This is where my stupidity factored in…

This was the first year that an additional warm mid layer was not on the (mandatory) kit list. It was recommended, but mandatory. This fact, along with the ‘good weather’ that was forecast cause me to take this as an opportunity to save some weight and carry one less item. Of course ‘good weather’ can mean a helluva lotta things in April in the UK. That night it meant freezing fog. I was also also, by now, 60+ miles in and not moving very fast at all.

I got colder. I stopped and put every item of clothing I had on. I got colder still. By the time I got to the Whitchurch aid station I knew I was suffering badly and that spending any more time outside could be really bad for me. So, I just sat shivering and hugging a radiator for the next 3 or 4 hours.

Could’ve, Would’ve, Should’ve

I’ve run the Whitchurch to Goring section a bunch of times – it’s a bit higher, and away from the river (to start with) – it might not have been so cold there.
Two chaps were planning on ‘walking it in’ (3miles/hour pace) and asked if I wanted to join them – that might have quickened my pace (and warmed me up).
I could have asked someone for a spare top.
I only had to get to Goring (4 miles) where I had a drop bag with more clothes I could have added as additional layers.

Lessons Learnt

Warm clothes for the night section. Kit is ‘recommended’ for a reason.

Final Thoughts

I do have a tendency to carry too much kit with me, however I guess it is better to be prepared rather than caught short. This year I plan to have a warm top with me at all times (in fact I think it’s gone back to ‘mandatory’ anyway). However, I will also have a better thought out clothing/warmth plan, with suitable backups – even if it means carrying more with me.

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