It’s been ages since Dorota (D) and I ran together and when she said that she’d signed up for the Thames Meander, she made me very happy🙂
I went up to London on Friday after work and got to D’s place around 7 pm, we then decided to venture out and hunt for dinner.
It didn’t take us long to find a suitable place that served nice veggie burgers, G&T and wine.
We spent the evening catching up and carried on talking until very late at night sharing stories, pictures and… more wine.
We ended up going to bed around 1am which wasn’t ideal but at that point couldn’t be helped.
Getting up in the morning was hard work but the lovely coffee D made me saved the day. We didn’t have a lot of time so we had a quick breakfast and rushed out.
Look at D’s lovely Polish hand painted pottery!
Our route to the YMCA Hawker Centre was straight forward… until we reached an unexpected diversion near Richmond Park. When we eventually got to the sports centre it turned out that all the parking spaces were already taken so we had to find an alternative. I was getting stressed because there was no time to spare! But then it turned out that we had enough time for registration, toilet stop, catch up with all the friendly people and even pictures.
This is the best part of these events, seeing and catching up with all the people you met at other races. The Thames Meander had a particularly great vibe about it, there were so many people I knew and I instantly felt welcome. The atmosphere was fantastic!
And then we had to start running! We went to the start where David, the Race Director was doing the race briefing, reassuring us that the loop at the start and the end was not added to torture us… (more about this later).
The race route as per the title: by the River Thames:
We started running towards Canbury Gardens to the sound of Scottish Bagpipes, it was great. Music at events always makes you feel quite special!
The route was paved and all I was thinking to myself was: ‘I’m wearing wrong shoes! I’m wearing off-road shoes!’ Apart from that, this part of the race was actually very nice, through a quiet park, near a pub, by the river – what’s not to like!
When we reached the far point of the park we turned around and went back towards the YMCA HQ, the start/finish point. I was hoping that we wouldn’t have to do the same on the way back i.e. go past the finish to do a loop and then come back. Surely that’s not what the RD meant, that would be evil!😉
The start/finish point had water and snacks and we stopped for a quick drink.
The paved path continued for a little while and then eventually turned into tarmac. It was pretty.
We got to the first water station, I wasn’t really counting the start/finish stop as a station. This station however had cake, therefore it was a proper station! We’ve been told by the marshals that David’s wife, Melanie baked them. The chocolate cake just melted in my mouth, I was happy and was even considering just stopping there and eating all the cake! But there’s no medal for that😉 so we carried on.
And then we saw Hannah! I met Hannah during the Wedding Cow marathon, she was my camping neighbour🙂
It turned out that Hannah lives in London, quite close to Dorota. I quite like coincidences like this.
Suddenly a lot of runners started passing us, fast runners, they were all doing the half marathon, which started later. D and I enjoyed our relaxed pace🙂
Time passed quite quickly as we were chatting throughout and before we knew it we were at another station where we met Danny! I really like Danny and it’s always great to see him at various events.
This was the half marathon turnaround point, I tried not to think about the distance ahead of us…
Somehow Dorota and I lost Hannah (she probably started running whilst we were still chatting to the marshals) so we were alone now but the conversation kept us going strong.
The route lead us through picturesque areas where people were walking their dogs and relaxing by the river. We spotted a pub (The Bull’s Head) and got very excited that we could have a small break, wash our faces and refill our bottles. The minute the barman spotted us, he just pointed in the direction of restrooms – I think it may have been quite obvious what we were there for😉
The next water station was quite close, but yet again we took the opportunity to stop and chat to the marshals and have some Tailwind. Yes, there was Tailwind at almost every station at this event, which was fantastic! D got a chance to try it and I just enjoyed the effortless refuelling😀
We ran and talked (we had a lot to catch up on) with other runners passing us by and us passing other runners (not often though). Eventually we saw yet another station in the distance, this time it was the turnaround point for the marathon. Happy times!
I can’t remember how much time we spent there, but we were certainly there for a while! We had more cake and took loads of pictures😀
This is when we met Brian Mills. I’m not going to put the number of marathons he has completed here, because these numbers change on a daily basis. If you don’t know him, click here.
Running with friends is so much fun😉
On the way back the sun came out and it was getting warmer and warmer.
It was hard and we were tired but the time passed quickly as we were engrossed in our conversation.
Eventually we got to the start/finish point and had to do the additional 1km-ish loop. Nooooo! I really didn’t want to do it then😦 I understand why the organisers did it this way and it’s for everyone’s good, but it was heart-breaking! Both D and I found this bit really hard, maybe because we both refused to believe that it would actually happen😉
We got to the finish, received our medals and did some lungy posing🙂
Then we had ice creams and talked to Danny.
We then met David (RD), hopefully next time we’ll meet his magic baker, Melanie😀
My train journey home was via Woking, where I called my favourite Italian restaurant to pre-order a pizza so that it was ready when I arrived😀 Planning is important!
I spent the evening with Jamie and our friends at a birthday BBQ with a great sense of achievement!
The event was really well organised, the marshals were great, Tailwind was a great surprise and the cake was awesome.
Thank you for a great time!