MORE than 200 people braved heavy rain, high winds and mud to complete a 50-mile endurance challenge,
writes David White.
Competitors in this year’s Thames Trot crossed the finish line at Henley’s Mill Meadows on Saturday evening after spending hours on foot.
A total of 288 people set off at 8.30am from Iffley, near Oxford, and followed a route along the Thames Path.
They had to reach five checkpoints at Culham Lock, Benson, Streatley, Mapledurham and Sonning before pre-set times in order to complete the race. Seventy-eight starters failed to make it.
The race was won for the second year in a row by Craig Holgate, who finished in five hours, 49 minutes and 19 seconds, followed by Robin Houghton in second place and William McMillan in third.
The fastest woman was Susie Chesher with a time of seven hours, one minute and and 44 seconds.
Chris Leppard, 36, of Ridgeway, Wargrave, finished 23rd overall.
Mr Leppard, a member of Wargrave Runners, said: “It was very tough in the conditions but when it’s on your doorstep it’s a good thing to do. At least it’s a short drive home to have a hot bath!”
Mark Gray, 38, of West Street, Henley, was the first of four members of Run Henley to cross the line, finishing 49th.
He said: “It was hard — the weather made it really challenging and we were running into a headwind for probably half of it.
“It was so muddy and windy, it really was mind over matter.”
Paul Ali, 43, from West Reading, who has run all eight Thames Trot races, said: “I’m used to the conditions to be honest. It was wet, muddy and windy but that’s what you expect.”
Organiser Steve Adams added: “It was probably the most testing conditions we have ever had because we had southerly gales just after the start all the way down to Streatley.
“The section between Benson and Streatley everybody reported to be the toughest.”
The event is expected to raise about £2,000 which will go to Teach Africa, a charity dedicated to sponsoring children from Nairobi’s slums through secondary education.