The Thames Ring 250 – longest running race in Britain

The longest non-stop running race in the UK and I’ve only just heard about it…

The Thames Ring 250 is a 250 mile non-stop  race with a cut-off time of 100 hours. This is the equivalent to running 10 marathons within 100 hours or just over 4 days. It is organised by the masterminds of the 145 mile Grand Union Canal Race – Anthony Taylor and Dick Kearns. Until the Thames Ring 250 the GUCR was the longest non-stop running race.

The Start; Streatley
The runners set off as the clock strikes ten
Aiming to get back to Streatley again
But this is no ordinary river run
Along the Thames in the morning sun
They set off at a conservative pace
Two-fifty miles is the length of their race


The race starts and finishes in Streatly Village, Berkshire – about 8 miles from Reading and 16 miles from Oxford, on the river Thames.

Rajeev Patel from the USA has an excellent blog on his first running of this extraodinary race. He began running marathons in 1997, progressed to ultra-marathons in 2005 and subsequently fell in love with trail running. He ran his first 100-miler in September 2006. The Thames Ring 250 was his first race in England and despite valient efforts he failed to finish. His own words of his emotions at his perceived ‘failure’ are well worth reading…

“Hindsight is a curious thing. It glosses over our pain but makes us treat that self that decided to make a certain decision with no respect. I did so for the first 2-3 weeks. It is only lately that I have accepted that I did not fail in this race. I fought as hard as I could for 64 hours and 183 miles. I had fun every step of the way. I was grateful to be alive and to be able to cover such a huge distance and not be in any real difficulties except during the last 3-4 miles.

The nettles and the narrow GUC trail on the Oxford Canal between Napton and Fenny Compton finally got to me. I am going back in May 2010 to run the 145-mile GUCR  as a means to coming to terms with the GUC towpath. This is so I can go back in 2011 and finish the Thames Ring 250.”

Approximately 100 runners start this race – in 2009 12 finished. Summed up by Rajeev this extreme ultra-marathon is a well-organised and throughly enjoyable, albeit painful, event.

“The race was fantastic. I cannot even begin to imagine what kind of planning went into the Checkpoints and how to transport runner bags from one CP to another. Kudos to Anthony Taylor and Dick Kearns for putting on a fantastic show. Thank you both and your amazing band of volunteers who kept us fed all through the race. Congratulations to all who started the race. You folks rock! It took a lot of courage. Congratulations to the amazing 12 who finished. I doff my hat to you ladies and gentlemen. You do us proud”!

Jonathan Kinder won the 2009 race in 59 hours and 49 minutes!  Dick Kearns, Alicja Barahona, one of only 2 women to start the race, and Neil Kapoor finished together in 79 hours.

It’s a race which people enter really to see how they will cope: mentally, phsically and psychologically. Nearly everyone who enters is over 40. As ‘Bio’ revealingly writes, “Pulled out at CP3. Now after a long sleep feel fine. Annoyed at myself though, I should have at least gone for one more checkpoint. We all know what it’s like though: you look back and think should have done this or that. Just got to learn from it and be better prepared for next time – and there will be a next time. Got to say amazing event. Crews at checkpoints are phenominal. They’re looking after the runners so well.”

Alistair Humphreys, adventurer extraordinaire, made an excellent video about this race. I recommend you watch it…  here!

The race will be held this year (2011) from Wednesday 22nd June – Sunday 26th June.

The Finish, Morrell Room, Streatley
The first runner arrived back on Friday night
Just before ten Jon’s goal was in sight
So round to Morrell Room this runner to see
He’s up and about, drinking cups of tea
And walking quite normal, looking just like
He’s been out on a few days leisurely hike
Not running the towpaths at a cracking pace
Four and a half miles per hour was his speed for this race

So respect due to those who have guts to compete
Even though in the end not all will complete
Whether you finished at Streatley or some other place
You’ve covered more miles than most runners would race
To run this race next time, a dream, do I dare?
But whether runner or helper, I plan to be there.


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