Thames Path 100k (Part 2) Sept 9-10, 2017
After a couple of hours at the rest stop, the objective on leaving Runnymede is to get as far as possible before dark. This is a really pleasant leg with narrow twisty trails through fields and woods for the most part (and stinging nettles up to waist height). Popping out into busy towns is still a shock, roads are busy and not easy to cross. I'm probably looking the wrong way for traffic.
Sunset is beautiful, the Thames is very still. I'm finally enjoying this whole thing quite a lot.
I thought this was some ancient Druidic rock and demanded a photo, turns out it's a bit of log surrounded by more nettles. Meh.
We can see Windsor Castle, I can't remember if the flag was up (= Queen is home) and also forget to take a photo. It is twilight now. I'd love to explore this area in daylight.
We go through the centre of a bustling town (Windsor), it's completely surreal. People everywhere staring at us. As we leave it's time to get the headlamps sorted out before total darkness.
Eton Wick (Windsor) mid point stop 63 km
Drumroll.....cupcakes at this rest stop! Glorious wonderful perfect cupcakes!
This is a great stop as we realize there's less than a marathon to go. The next stop will bring us to 78 km - only 22 left, I know we've got this.
We leave Eton Wick in full darkness, to keep us occupied we decide to take pictures with relevant distance markers. First up - Mario.
We're right by the river in woods and it is completely dark with green glowsticks in the trees to guide us. At each stop we study the map before leaving to be aware of bridges, turns and road crossings because I am absolutely not adding any more distance to this race.
We share a flapjack, it is buttery heaven.
As if it wasn't surreal enough, party boats lit up like Christmas trees with music blaring randomly pass us off to the left on the river. So bizarre. I enjoy Blue Velvet coming out of the dark, there's some Abba and some utter crap on another one.
We go through Maidenhead before heading back into woods, there's a thick fog coming off nearby fields so we're extra careful to always have a glowstick in sight. This is an interesting sight in the middle of the night....
Cookham major stop 78 km
Aka the pizza tent. Bring me all the foods. We have a longer break here to attach things to feet (mine are doing exceptionally well with the magic blister pads on), change socks and for Kev to get a massage to help the pain in his shoulders. Fancy eh?! There's also a lovely big heater to huddle around.
I usually look quite stunned this far into a race and tonight is no exception.
It's getting colder so we put on woolly hats for the next leg. Only 10k to the next stop. Kev is now feeling crappy and I'm enjoying life so I drag him over the next part.
We are going through fields which include cows on our route (avoid avoid!) and other things the cows have deposited. There's gates from field to field as well, this is clearly to stop the cows socializing. We miss the 81 marker because cows so that project goes tits up. Sorry Phil.
We're with a little group on this leg keeping up a decent pace, I honestly think this is the leg I enjoy most. Conversation = 'puddle', 'puddle', 'mud', 'cows', 'puddle'. There are pockets of fog off the river, a small town to cross (Marlow), more fields and bright lights and music as we approach the rest stop. 87 km happens on a steep bridge which is interesting. It's a lot of fun in the middle of the night.
Hurley mid point stop 88km
I finally take a pic of the snack area at the very last stop, pretty nice.
We get out on the last 12 km as quickly as we can. We cross another steep bridge then are immediately in deep wet grass which continues for most of the next 5 km. It's very foggy now and we're in a field so glowsticks are the only route indicator. I believe this might be a water meadow.
Feet get progressively soggier then the blisters start to sting, these kms are not going by fast at all. Eventually we lose the glowsticks but the person ahead of us turns back to yell she's found them again and we only have to climb through a fence to reach her. Thank you! Surprisingly we get through the fence without incident other than a bit of whining.
It's so cold over the last 5 km. The fog is wet and dense and our feet are soaking. We leave the meadow after an uphill then try to pick off each km. Once again I have FML thoughts at 96. I swear those last few kms are each 6 miles long. Freezing. Owls are hooting loudly through the fog.
There you are.
It's all going to be over. We've done it.
Despite being damp and frozen, we manage a couple of photos before heading into the finish tent. There's no way I could drink this sadly.
We're done at 5:15 and the first train is at 10. Praise be, we find the medical tent where there is heating. Eventually we get back to London after falling asleep on Henley train platform, on the train to Paddington and in the cab we treated ourselves to instead of dragging our stuff on the underground.
Amazing experience, every bit.