Thames Trot course photo

Tom Ridsdale takes a minute off Thames Trot record

Go Beyond Ultra goes the extra mile for competitors

We continue our theme this week of astonishing performances over prodigious distances with a look at how Go Beyond Ultra managed to deliver a successful 13th Thames Trot Ultra in partnership with the Thames Path National Trail on Saturday (24 0ctober) despite ongoing challenges posed by the COVID-19 restrictions.

This linear route follows England's largest river for 48 miles from the 19th century Hawkwell House Hotel, Iffley, to the finish line at Mill Meadows, Henley-on-Thames. With its links to two great rowing locations, the race is often subtitled: 'The Boat Race'. 

The running surface is approximately 8 miles on tarmac roads and 40 miles on footpaths, bridleways, and muddy trails, so trail shoes are the preferred footwear. Course records are 6:12:04 by Alex Wherity last year and 6:40:54 by Betty Bohane in 2018. There is an 11-hour time limit and the event naturally qualifies competitors for the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc, with a cherished three points towards the 10 that are pre-requisite for UTMB long course entry.

The first to pocket those valuable points on Saturday was 2:39:13 marathoner Tom Ridsdale (unattached) with a new course record of 6:11:02. Tom was followed home by M40 Matt Gallagher (Wimbledon Windmilers, 6:19:58) and M45 James Quinn (Reading, 6:33:24). 

W40 master Laura Swanton-Rouvelin, of Mudcrew Running, led the women's field with 6:59:03 – an impressive follow-up to her win at the Chiltern Wonderland 50 (7:37.29) last month. A Killerton parkrun regular in normal times, Laura ran 163.574m in 24 hours at Tooting Bec last year and took the Autumn 100 miler at Goring in 18:27:17 in 2018.  

Unattached athletes Melissa Montague (7:26:02) and Charlotte Kirk (7:27:05) were the nearest opposition as 132 runners beat the clock to finish inside 11 hours.

Organisers Go Beyond Ultra certainly had to go the extra mile to put on a COVID-safe event this year. Part of the route was altered at Streatley to avoid a narrow bridge crossing and there was a private shuttle mini-bus service provided from Oxford Station to the 8:30am start at Iffley.

An excellent 22-minute review of the course by mountain bike is available on YouTube here

Race details and full results are at runABC South race listing here

Image courtesy Go Beyond Ultra on facebook

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