13 Mar 11 by James Elson

Thames Path 100

Al and I finally got our act together and launched the new website this week. It is so much better than the previous one in terms of communicating the details of each race to potential runners and allowing them to stay in touch with race news and progress.

As part and parcel of that we sent registrations live for the Thames Path 100 at the same time. A 100 mile non stop run from Richmond in London to Oxford.

We have worked very hard to make sure we don't clash with any existing race dates and particularly to stay clear of the excellent races put on by Go Beyond (Country to Capital 45 mile and Thames Trot 50 mile) always in Jan and early Feb each year. A big part of that is that selfishly I intend to keep running those races myself every year!!!!

In the end I went for the first week of March. My frustration as a runner is that there are no early season long ultra courses available in the UK. As such I have flown to the States twice to run Rocky Raccoon because I like to race often and stay fit rather than have a big gap over Christmas. It gave me that early season opportunity to get a good 100 mile trail run under my belt. For experienced runners it will also provide a gauge of where they are in terms of fitness and of how difficult some of the longer or more challenging 100 mile plus races are going to be for them during the true long ultra race season of May to September. The TP100 will form an excellent platform for major races across the summer. I include in the category of major races: GUCR, WHW, Badwater, Spartathlon, Lakeland 100, UTMB, Western States, Leadville, Hardrock etc etc. 

It is always going to be a balancing act putting on new events. We will always incur some criticism for either clashing with existing race dates or putting races on, on courses or national trails that are already covered by existing events. In my opinion there is room for 3 things: 
1. An early season long course. 
2. A race that offers first time 100 milers a chance to complete the distance under the simplest possible conditions, after all the distance itself is enough of a challenge. 
3. Another 100 mile option to UK runners at an affordable price. 

I'm sure also, as per the NDW100, that we will receive a backlash against the cost of the TP100 entry, which I have set at £85. The cost is £85 for two reasons. 1. That is the minimum I have worked out we can charge runners and not lose money. That is based on reaching a certain reasonable but optimistic number of entries which I will keep to myself bearing in mind we are including buckles for all finishers, easily the most expensive part of staging this race but crucial in my eyes, to give people something they can take away and be proud of apart from the sheer pleasure of simply finishing and having the memory of doing so. 2. Because I personally consider £85 for a 100 mile/ 30 hour fully supported marshaled and marked race with proper medical back up, good value for money. The cheapest 100 I have entered to date is Rocky Raccoon and the early entry cost for that is $130, or, you guessed it..... £85. 

The cost has always been the most difficult thing to get right for me. I am extremely confident I or rather we as a team can give people an awesome race day experience, because frankly I intend to put on my ideal race as a runner, leaving as little as possible and preferably nothing to chance. Things will go wrong in our first events but the mistakes will be minimal and there will be plenty of capable people around on race day to ensure that we correct any mistakes swiftly and properly. I guess I feel a little vindicated in our costings given that we are up to 57 runners for the NDW races, 5 months from race date, and the fact that 6 people signed up within 24 hours of the TP100 going live, 12 months prior to race date. 

Last thing to be aware of really is limiting numbers in case the races turn out to be so popular that we get out of control. I have put reasonable limits on all the races, a number that I feel we can properly manage in our first year. There has to be an element of 'testing the water' and in my eyes to unleash 100s of runners on to new race courses, is irresponsible. This after all is not Western States which I understand will have 1400 volunteers this year for under 400 of us runners. Insane.

So thanks to those who have supported us already and I promise we will do everything that we physically can to blow you away before, during and after race day. 

For those that follow the misery of my running career at the moment, I am currently spending between 2 and 3 hours a day cycling in the gym, wearing a cast on my left foot. Im not joking. Some of the looks I've been getting are priceless. It is mind numbing and not in the least bit enjoyable but hopefully I can retain some level of fitness for the Grand Slam. There is one bonus, I get to watch a shed load of TV ( mounted to the bike frame). Today I watched 3 back to back episodes of Jamie Oliver cooking tapas on Channel 4, whilst burning 1100 calories. I have to wear this thing for between 4 and 8 weeks. Oh JOY!!!!!