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Long Distance Swims - Thames Marathon

The most triathletes will do , even on the longer distance Tri’s is 3.8 km ….. so why go longer ? I think us triathletes like to challenge ourselves !

The Thames marathon ( though technically an Ultra Marathon) is 13 km ( just over 8 miles) long from Henley to Marlow. Although downstream you don’t not get much assistance owing to a number of locks. There are 3 in this section at 4 km, 9 km & 11 km. At these points you have to get out of the water to walk around them. A very welcome break for fluid & nutrition.

I had done the Aberdovey 13 km the previous year but that had a huge tidal assist & I completed it in 2 hrs 20 mins. So I wanted a harder challenge. Thames was it.

On one of the hottest weekends of the year, a mere 35 degs it was a very welcome thought to be in water at 22 degs. Owing to the heat this year it was allowed to make the option in ‘skins’. Never my option as I love the buoyancy of a wetsuit.

A well organised event with lots of pre information. The registration was simple & venue easy to find. On the day you were bussed down to Henley where you set off in waves 5 -10 mins apart. So with a 1000 participants , there were a few waves. The faster swimmers went off last in white hats. Tow floats were compulsory as there was a lot of river traffic & you tended to be kept to the right side of the river. Safety cover was amazing & every present. Food stops the best I have seen with lots of hydration & small pots of food from bananas to flapjacks & sweets.

The cost was expensive at £145 however it was well worth it & you do pay for good organised safe events.

The first 4 km was lovely before Hambledon lock as you go past Temple island around a big bend. Managed to do that in an hour. The secret of long distance swims are long steady strokes with lots of rotation.

The second leg was much tougher in 5 km that seemed to go on forever. I kept myself occupied by observing what colour hats I was overtaking, orange - pink - green ….but this leg took me a further hour & a half.

The 3rd leg of 2km was lovely, pretty quick & lots more civilisation with things going on to distract you. Out at Temple lock.

The last & final 2km stint I knew well as I had walked it the day before so recognised lots of landmarks. Final straight but fatigue was setting in with an ache every stroke, but what a welcome sight the finish was …. & the medal and a great time of 3 hrs 44 mins. All worth it.

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