The 4th Thames Path 100 and more records broken, both through outstanding performances on the course and attendance from both runners and volunteers alike.
The weather has plagued this event for 2 out of the previous 3 editions and during the week leading up to this years race, it looked like that could happen yet again. However race day dawned dry and overcast, staying that way until the small hours of the morning when rain began to set in. The back half of the course which contains more rutted trail than the earlier miles slowed some of the later runners down but on the whole the going was good.
The early favourites going in to the race were all in the right place at CP1, the front end of the field and running hard. Sam Robson cleared Check Point 1 at 11 miles in 1:18 and had already opened up a 2 minute lead over Mark Denby, Ian Thomas, Matthew Ayre, Martin Bacon and Max Wilcocks. As usual with the TP100, runners lured into the easy going and screaming fast early miles suffered as the race went on and only 2 of these initial 6 leaders went on to finish. Some injuries, some other issues. In fact by Dorney Lake at 30 miles, Max was running way out ahead with Matthew who we knew would drop at Henley due to an early announcement of the fact. They went through in 4 hours flat and with lead of 14 minutes over the rest of the field. That lead would grow throughout the day as Max remained strong through the middle part of the race. At Henley, his lead had grown to 34 minutes and it was clear that if he could hold it together, we were likely to be looking at a one horse race.
Onwards through Reading he remained strong, but started to drop some time as he moved through Whitchurch and Streatley and he slowed considerably over the only section of the Thames Path with any change in elevation. Over the last 30 miles however, he held it together enough to stave off some good late running from both Nick Greene and David Barker. He made Abingdon mile 91 in 14:50, and suffered out the last 9 miles to come home in a total time of 16:35:11, claiming his first 100 mile win.
Nick Greene came home in second after an extremely tough fought battle with David Barker. At Streatley, Nick was 12 minutes ahead, by Abingdon 20 miles later he was 6 minutes behind, but made up that ground and with a mile to go, powered past and came home a scant 90 seconds ahead of David. Superb racing by both guys and great to see in the final stages of a 100 miler.
The ladies race was led from the gun by Sally Ford. Sally had finished second last year and had been recording some excellent and improving race results in the interim. Mimi Anderson the incumbent record holder ran well in second, in her trademark consistent style and it was clear that if Sally faltered Mimi would be waiting in the wings to push past. At Dorney, Sally’s lead was 25 minutes, at Henley mile 51, it was up to 37 minutes and she was into 5th overall. The second half of the race has the tougher terrain and we normally see huge drop offs in pace, it often being a case of who falters the least that comes home first. Sally was up to the task and motored on, moving into 4th at Reading mile 58 and held that position for the remainder of the race. She came in with a huge new course record of 77 minutes in 17:33:42. Mimi ran home for superb second in 20:06:41. Rounding out the top 3, Wendy Shaw recorded yet another podium place in 20:34:49. Wendy now has 9 Centurion 100 mile finishes including all 4 Thames Path 100’s, with finishing positions of 5th, 4th, 3rd and 2nd.
265 runners started the race, our biggest ever 100 mile starting field. Overall the flat nature of the course and the fast early pace seemed to take it’s toll on the field from the go. From 3 drops at Check Point 1, the pattern continued and we lost runners throughout the day, night and day. 3 made it agonisingly close, getting as far as the final Check Point at Lower Radley (mile 95) before their races ended. 182 finished for a rate of 69% with 106 coming home under 24hrs to walk off with the new Thames Path 100 miles - One Day belt buckle.
The TP100 forms the first of our four 100 mile events and hence the first in the Grand Slam series. Of 48 hopefuls at race start, 34 made it through, albeit that is a much lower first event drop than we have seen in previous Slam numbers.
Another special mention to Ken Fancett who at 65 again broke the 21hr mark and kept up his lead on the All-Time Centurion mileage leaderboard with 1250 (11 x 100’s, 3 x 50’s). Tremayne Cowdry and Ray Hasler also completed their 10th Centurion 100 milers.
We broke another record at the event, one which we are most proud of. We had a total of 97 volunteers and 15 staff out on the course and every single person contributed to the safe and successful weekend we enjoyed. From themed aid stations to crews going above and beyond to help runners in so many instances, to the volunteers go our biggest thanks.