24 April 2019
Gareth Price, our Head of Development, is running the Thames Path 100 for London Youth. The race is a continuous 100 miles along the Thames from Richmond to Oxford. In this blog, he explains his mental and physical preparations in the last 10 days before his gruelling challenge.
It took me five separate runs and I didn’t do them in quite the right order but I’ve now finished recceing the Thames Path from Richmond to Kennington. It is so totally different travelling from London to Oxford along the river rather than the M40. I know it doesn’t have a Starbucks but Bourne End beats Beaconsfield Services for me. The Thames was so clean and calm and so assured in the path it took through the landscape. I swear in the little gorge section between Maidenhead and Cookham it was emerald green in colour. At times the meadows I jogged through were heaving with people, enjoying a bank holiday passeggiata in the sun, especially around Henley and Reading, and yet there were times when I felt like the last man in England, with either a herd of sheep or some ducks or a distant cuckoo for company.
And invariably, exploring a new cross section of this country of ours, I had Dad’s presence on my shoulder. He would, undoubtedly have been able to tell me why Windsor has two separate train termini; how I could have avoided being marooned at Culham; the provenance of the various huge estates I ran through. And maybe it was his influence that led me to instinctively say ‘that’s a Brunel job’ as I was bowled over by an impressive, unusually coloured railway bridge on the way into Maidenhead. A bit of subsequent googling confirmed that yes the main man was responsible, and also that his creation had moved Turner so much he made it the centrepiece of ‘Rain, Steam and Speed’.
And as for the race itself – now only 10 days away – I am humbled and scared witless by how far 100 miles is on foot. And by just how many things have the potential to go wrong. It’s more of a question of when the wheels will come of rather than if they will. Even on a short recce I missed the diversion between Marlow and Hurley and went 3.5 miles out of my way. On the same, hot, day I underestimated how full of cold I was and completely ran out of steam. I now know that it won’t be alright on the night and that finishing is most likely to happen as a result of improvisation and adaptation, finding a way out of whatever crises come along at the time, as opposed to form or fast running or tubthumping. It won’t be pretty. But it will be a mind blowing. And it will be a beautiful journey through some of the most under-rated terrain in the South of England.
If you would like to support Gareth’s incredible goal and the work of London Youth, please follow the link below.