FKT: Martin Johnson - Thames Path (UK) - 2021-05-26

Route variation
Standard route
Gender category
Start date
Finish date
Total time
1d 14h 35m 46s

After several months of planning the day had come to realise my ambition to run the 180 miles from the the barrier to Thames Head, the rivers source in the Cotswolds.  

I was supported by a core crew of four throughout, who would meet me at 18 predetermined checkpoints - roughly 10 mile apart. As is standard, the crew would provide me with food, water, oversee kit changes and provide medical and general support where needed. I would also be joined by a team of pacers for most of the route.

I set off at 9am in near perfect weather conditions, these conditions would remain across the two days forming a perfect backdrop to what would unfold and helping to create some glorious views of the Thames throughout.

Helped by my early pacers I was able to make steady progress and maintained  fairly even pace through the first five checkpoints of Bermondsey, Wandsworth, Richmond, Walton-on-Thames and Staines where I arrived at 16:21, slightly under target pace, feeling fresh and well fuelled.

At roughly 13 miles each, the next two stretches from Staines to Maidenhead and Maidenhead on to Henley-on-Thames would be two of the longer segments between crew stops, but with my latest pacer alongside I continued the early pace and felt I had found my rhythm. 

We arrived at Henley-on-Thames at 21:18 still feeling good and moving well, here it was time reach for the head torches as I prepared to run into the night.

Another steady segment took me through to Reading and the half way mark shortly after. A solo stint followed through the darkness from Reading to Streatley made challenging by the now difficult conditions under foot and heavy mist from the Thames reducing visibility. I made it through to Streatley and the 100 mile well inside target pace.

Two fairly difficult night stretches followed through to Benson and on to Culham, the muddy trails were now beginning to slow my progress and broke up my early rhythm.

As the sun rose on Day two I began to struggle with a calf issue I'd been managing in the build-up. As I arrived in Oxford (approx 130 miles) I was struggling to put weight through my right calf, and it was becoming clear my goal time was slipping away and but the FKT was still very much insight if I could maintain a steady momentum.

Reduced to a hike I pushed on through the day and the next five checkpoints at Bablock Hythe, Newbridge, Radcott and Lechlade before arriving in Castle Eaton around 18:45 where I prepared for the final effort through to the finish. 

Some unseasonal flooding of the large sections of the path, through the Cotswolds water Park and beyond, made otherwise runnable stretches frustrating and resulted in some waist deep wading in parts. Spurred on by my pacer and support crew I rallied for one final effort from the last checkpoint at Ashton Keynes through to the finish at Thames Head (Kemble), where I was greeted by family and friends at 23:34 - soggy, tired and relieved!

Overall, an incredible journey along a path rich in history and a nice blend of manmade and natural beauty and points of interest.