Last Sunday saw us in Henley on Thames for the Henley 10k which was part of a much larger event, The Thames Path Challenge, in which walkers and runners made their way along the Thames for distances ranging from 100kms to 25kms. The 10k started and finished in the town centre and was half on the river path and half through fields and woodland and down country lanes.
It was a very different set up to any 10k we have done before as it was also catering for the ultra runners and walkers. Free refreshments were available when we arrived and as we were really early we were most grateful for that. There were staggered starts with walkers and runners setting off together at half hourly intervals whilst all the time finishers were arriving from London and other starting points along the river.
After a fun warm up we made our way, without the benefit of marshalls, through the Sunday morning crowds and traffic to cross over Henley bridge which was as busy as it always is. Just over the bridge we turned down a lane and into grassland before heading uphill towards Remenham. The first obstacle was a stile, followed by a kissing gate, more stiles, more kissing gates and then a field of cows and a five barred gate. At this point we were thinking perhaps we had gone wrong (along with quite a few others) but over the gate we climbed wishing that we could have done those rolling over the top kind of moves! We carried on following those in front knowing that there was a turn somewhere ahead. Fortunately we saw an arrow up along a path and turned off the lane. As I looked back the direction arrows were behind us – we had approached from the wrong direction but at least we were back on the right track.
We soon arrived at the water station which was a welcome sight, apparently they had chocolate Freddo bars (how did I miss those?) and then it was just a short distance until we arrived at the Thames path. A lovely flat 5kms to do although we had to negotiate our way around Sunday walkers of all ages with dogs, children, scooters and push chairs, cyclists and the groups walking the Challenge, some of whom had been walking through the night and were just focused on finishing. It was great running beside the river as there was a lot going on out on the water.
Soon we were back at the bridge which was even busier than before, with more walkers and runners just setting off and even more people than before enjoying a stroll in the sunshine. Then it was just back down the road to the river path and into Mill Meadow for the finish where, not only did finishers receive a medal, a bottle of water and a tee shirt, but also a glass of champagne. It was a well organised event with a super friendly atmosphere and an excellent barbecue to enjoy at the end. It is definitely one to do again next year. Something I have learned – keep an eye on the signs and don’t just follow the person in front of you!