Thursday, 28 October 2021

New 50km run for beginners off the blocks next summer

A NEW 50km run aimed at ultra-marathon novices will take place in and around Henley next year.

Up to 500 people could take part in the Temple Trail Race on Sunday, August 23, which will start in Falaise Square at 8am and finish there in the afternoon.

The event is being organised by Race Solutions, of Whitchurch Hill, and has been approved by Henley Town Council.

Chris Sumner, the company’s owner, came up with the idea after seeing photographs of the Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc in France, which sets off from the centre of Chamonix.

He said Henley was a similarly picturesque location and would make a good starting point.

Mr Sumner said: “I’d wanted to do it for a couple of years because the Chilterns area around Henley is incredible — you’re less than an hour from central London but once you’re deep into the countryside you might as well be in the middle of Wales. We want to replicate the sense of spectacle that exists at the Mont Blanc race and really show Henley at its best.

“Nobody has ever put on an ultra-race specifically for beginners. It doesn’t have to be your first race but we’re making it easier for those who’ve never done it before and would like to try.

“We don’t mind too much how many people take part – it’s our first time so the main aim is just to get it going.”

The participants will run along Hart Street, which will be closed to traffic from 5am to about 8.10am, and across Henley Bridge before joining the Thames Path by Leander Club.

They will proceed past Temple Island and through Aston to Hurley, where they will cross at the lock and follow country trails through Rotten Row, Hambleden, Turville and Turville Heath, Russells Water and the outskirts of the Assendons. The final stretch is on the path between Marlow Road and Fair Mile, emerging on the latter and crossing Freemans Meadow before proceeding along Crisp Road, Hop Gardens and West Street.

The route, which could be subject to minor changes, will be signposted and there will be five support stations along the way at roughly 10km intervals where runners can get water and food.

Each athlete will carry a tracking device so that Race Solutions staff know their location in case they set into difficulty.

The athletes will have to finish in less than 10 hours.

Mr Sumner said: “The cut-off is fairly generous considering most events offer more like seven or eight hours. At a pace only slightly faster than walking, that’s two hours between support stations.”

He said he was aware of the controversy surrounding the Challenge Henley triathlon, which took place between 2011 and 2013 and attracted complaints over 12-hour road closures.

Mr Sumner said: “That was a bigger event and we know what a pain it can be. Our event has been designed to cause as little disruption as possible and won’t create havoc for people going about their daily business.

“We only need to close Hart Street for 10 minutes and there will be a very gradual stream of runners arriving at the finish through the day. They’ll come one by one so there won’t be a big rush and they’ll have to stop for cars, which is normal for these events.

“I’m very pleased that the town council took a favourable view of it. I understand that Henley has lots of events and it’s difficult to decide whether it’s worth allowing another one.”

Entrants are being encouraged to arrive by train but a dedicated car park will operate at the Fairmile Vineyard, off Fair Mile, from 6am to 8pm.

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