The Thames Meander is a three race series in March, August and November, with a half and full option, and a bonus trophy for completing the series! I’ve a bit of a love/hate relationship with this one, it’s a beautiful flat course up and down the Thames, but in spite of this I’ve never managed a great run there, so entered this purely as the opportunity for a good day out to enjoy the atmosphere and scenery and not worry about times. It’s well organised, and very friendly, and will always have special memories for me as it was the course on which I ran my 100th marathon.
So the day dawned wet and miserable, and as the rain beat down on my car as I drove there I wondered to myself, what could be more fun that a wind lashed, soggy marathon… well the obvious answer was to precede it with a wind lashed soggy parkrun (you’ll never get that 250 t-shirt if you let a marathon and a bit of rain stand in your way!!) Kingston parkrun is worth a visit, a nice scenic flat route down the river and 15% off in the café for those who like a bit of tourism!
I arrived in plenty of time to get a parking space close to the start at the Hawker Centre in Kingston, and quickly grabbed my marathon number before proceeding down to the parkrun. Parkrun done there was just time to dash back to the car for a quick costume change (running’s answer to Lady GaGa on the outfit front!) and back down to the towpath for the start of the marathon.
Fortunately the rain had eased off a little by this time, and conditions were fairly mild, if a little muddy underfoot. The route follows the Thames path from Kingston, passing Kew Gardens as far as Barns Elm Rowing Club, where it turns around and you come back….another positive being that it’s impossible to get lost! It’s pretty well supported with generous checkpoints, and lots of support from runners in the opposite direction on the way out and back, a good opportunity to cheer on your club mates…in this case Lance and Martin!
I felt pretty good for the first half, and trotted along quite happily until about mile 20 where a combination of last week’s Beachy Head (and a slightly over excited last mile of parkrun!) caught up with me and tiredness kicked in. I chatted to a few fellow 100 club runners also feeling the pain, and the last few miles went past surprisingly quickly given the shuffling pace!
The only real negative for me about this race is the fact that you have to pass the finish line and do a 2 mile loop back in order to make up the distance, which is a little soul destroying! That said there are plenty of cheers to keep you going. I was relieved to cross the finish line to get a nice chunky medal and flapjack….even more so when the timing lady came over and presented me with a trophy for 3rd lady. I was sure she had made a mistake but luckily for me everyone else had obviously been suffering those last few miles so it was worth hanging on and keeping the pace just in single figures rather than giving in to the urge to walk!!
If you fancy a low key friendly event, it’s definitely worth a go.