Happy Wednesday, the long weekend is rapidly approaching. If you don’t enjoy reading rather lengthy race reviews then I’d recommend you stop reading. I promise I won’t be offended.
Some of you know I set myself the challenge of completing 10 races in 2018. On Sunday I completed my second race – the Wallingford Thames Run. I’ve clearly got a bit of catching up to do.
[Photo: Run Wallingford]
So what did I think of the Wallingford Thames Run? Would I run it again? Would I recommend the race to other runners?
Entry was straightforward. I headed to the race entry page, filled in my details and paid my entry fee of £15. The only minor irritation was discovering that numbers would have to be collected on the morning of the race. I much prefer having numbers posted to me and am more than happy to pay extra for the privilege.
The weather on Sunday was perfect – almost a little too perfect – and I decided to forget about times and to enjoy what was a completely new to me event.
Registration was simple and it took me a matter of seconds to collect my number and some safety pins. I then proceeded to spend 10 minutes struggling to pin my race number onto my t-shirt without stabbing myself. Number safely attached, I decided to locate the toilets while it was still reasonably quiet. I’m not sure if the queues got longer later on but I didn’t have to queue for any of my pre-race nervous toilet visits.
The race HQ was a local primary school. Thanks to some excellent planning, the race coincided with the annual Summer Fete. This meant that there were several stands to keep me occupied. The only downside was having to ignore the aroma of sausage and burgers. I doubt that even my hardcore stomach could cope with a sausage sarnie 30 minutes before a 10k.
I met up with some of the members of the local running group – most were volunteering – posed for a group photo and then headed towards the start area for a warm-up. By this stage it was really warm so I decided to watch everyone else leaping around.
Warm-up completed, we shuffled closer to the start, listened to some announcements and then the race started.
It took me a minute to cross the start line.
It took me a couple of minutes of being overtaken by speedy runners to realise the 5k runners had started at the same time as the 10k runners. I stopped worrying about how fast other people were running and started to enjoy the rather epic scenery. The race followed a section of my not so enjoyable run on Wednesday evening run and into a much needed shaded section. A few runners were complaining about the congestion through this section, I shut out the moaning and focused on attention on the surface which was a touch ‘bumpy’ in places. I
smiled grimaced for the race photographer and rather reluctantly left the shaded section behind.
[Photo: Barry Cornelius]
The next section of the course was a little uninspiring and involved running alongside the A4130 for a couple of minutes, a steep downhill back towards the river and a slightly speed-sapping 360 degree turn. Tricky turn completed, we ran next to the River Thames before heading into the centre of Wallingford.
I’m not sure why I’d assumed the race took place on closed roads because it didn’t. For several frustrating seconds I found myself trapped behind an elderly pedestrian I couldn’t overtake so I used the unexpected walking break to catch my breath. We left the centre of Wallingford behind and ran across the bridge back towards the start of the 5k route.
Seeing loads of runners finish when I had another 5k to go was a tad demoralising. I stopped at the water station, made sure that I actually drank some water and headed out on the second lap.
The hazards of running in the countryside were highlighted when I had to slow to a walk to give way to someone driving a tractor. I found ‘tractorgate’ quite amusing, other runners didn’t. I ran past the location of the race photographer on the first lap – he’d moved – and back towards the River Thames.
I was really struggling by this stage so wasn’t exactly thrilled when I spotted the race photographer in the distance. By this stage there were hardly any other runners around me so I had no one to hide behind. I smiled and thanked the photographer and carried on running.
[Photos: Barry Cornelius]
On the first lap I got stuck behind a pedestrian, on the second lap a group of us spent what felt like forever waiting for the opportunity to cross the main road.
I don’t think I’ve ever felt so relieved to reach the end of a 10k. I crossed the line and headed straight to the water table. I was impressed when I discovered that the Wallingford Thames Run was a plastic free event and I was handed a plastic cup of water. I guess starting and finishing a race at a primary school does have some perks.
I was handed a medal and headed towards another major perk – the bar – and treated myself to a pint of cold and refreshing beer.
I found myself somewhere to sit in the shade and spent an enjoyable 30 minutes people watching and relaxing. Recovery (and pint) complete, I walked the mile or so back to my shared house, had a shower, got dressed and had a Sunday snooze.
Although my own race performance was a little below par, the Wallingford Thames Run was incredibly well organised from start to finish. Event photographs were available to download for free a couple of hours after the race and the official results were published in the evening.
As always, this race report has turned into an essay so I’ll stop waffling and leave you with a selection of Strava stats from the race.
So would I recommend the Wallingford Thames Run? Let’s just say I’m a little disappointed I won’t be around to improve my time next year.
- Cost: 10/10 – £15 (I think! All profits went to charity and the entry fee included free downloads of official race photos)
- Course: 8/10
- Medal: 5/10
- Race t-shirt: n/a
- Goody Bag: n/a
What is the strangest thing you’ve had to ‘give way’ to during a race? I can honestly say I didn’t think I’d ever be held up by a tractor.
Do you think race organisers should do more to reduce the amount of plastic waste that is produced during races?