Messing About Near Boats by Becky Fennelly

Messing about near boats..

It seems like time is flying now and I’m writing this with just 6 weeks to go before the big day. Most of the things that concerned me about the training happened all at once a couple of weeks ago with both the bad weather and a cold hitting me in the same week. I guess it’s actually quite fortuitous to have them both happen at the same time as this means the disruption to training is all in one go. It also happened on a drop down week which limited the impact.

Over the course of “snow week” I watched the weather intently, continually checked out the state of the pavements and kept putting off running for fear of slipping and causing myself injury (the other training concern that’s been on my mind). I read lots of comments and advice from all you hardy Eagles about running in the snow, but that fear of injury kept me from giving it a go. As the week progressed I started to feel a bit under the weather which turned into a cold by Friday, just as the snow was due to clear.

I had been planning to run the Big Half on the Sunday and was secretly hoping it would be called off to avoid having to make the decision myself about whether or not I was well enough to run. As it turned out it wasn’t called off but neither was I up to running, so a day in bed it was.

Thankfully the cold was fairly short lived and I was back out and running a couple of days later, not feeling that my unplanned week off had done me much harm.

The training plan called for a 17 mile run the following weekend and I had planned a route along the river. I was aware that the Thames Meander was taking place on Saturday but after checking the start time and route, I was confident we wouldn’t get caught up in the middle of the run on the Thames Path so Che and I set out on our run early on Saturday morning as usual.

Despite my best laid plans this was not to be a nice peaceful riverside run today.  It wasn’t long into the run before we noticed a large number of boats being prepared along the banks of the river. Maybe there’s a bit of a club event we thought. As we carried on further along the river the proliferation of boats continued and we noticed quite a lot of teams of young women accompanying the boats. As we got towards Putney it was clear we had found ourselves slap bang in the middle of a major regatta complete with event village, food stalls etc. We had little choice but to stop running at this stage as teams were carrying large boats around and any attempt to get past them would have likely resulted in being clocked over the head by a boat/oar/other boaty paraphernalia.


We crossed the river at Putney Bridge to start our return towards Ealing. Almost immediately we were faced with a group of individuals running hard towards us with race numbers attached. The number of individuals started to increase steadily. We had definitely found ourselves on an unexpected race route! Some of the first speedy runners we saw started coming back past us in the opposite direction, so it appeared it was an out and back route along some quite narrow areas of the Thames Path. It once again became difficult to maintain our speed as we dodged large numbers of runners heading towards us from both directions. A check of the race numbers informed us it was the now infamous Rough Runners half marathon & 10k events. It was nice to see a few familiar Eagles faces amongst the runners and cheer them on.

We passed a couple of water stations with a single person manning them. At the second water station I heard someone comment about being directed the wrong way across a field. Shortly after this we saw some people heading back towards us for the third time so this was more of a continuous back & forth route rather than an out and back.

At a couple of points we came across a marshall who directed us along the race route despite us not wearing any numbers.  Having read the feedback about this race since our run it seems we were actually quite lucky to come across marshalls at all. Che and I commented at the time that we were very glad not to be doing that race and everything we have read since has borne out our concerns about the route and organisation of the event. It was no EHM that’s for sure!

We finally made it to the end of our epic boat and race dodging run, both feeling hungry and thirsty. We shared some nuts but as we had run out of water we both found it pretty much impossible to swallow them and had to dive into an Irish Bar for a drink! Just water, honest! The barman very kindly gave us a glass of iced water each which was extremely welcome. I’d never been to that bar before but since the barman was such a nice chap I may pop back in for a pint or two sometime.

Lessons learned are to check your route thoroughly for events taking place, take plenty of water and choose moister foodstuffs next time.