Thames Ring 250 DNF – 2021

With the help of Strava I have spent this afternoon trying to work out what happened last night.

It appears that I left the final checkpoint at 10:50pm and the volunteers have confirmed I was Ok then and didn’t think I needed any sleep before commencing the final 20 mile leg through to the finish.  I remember being at the checkpoint, having something to  eat and repacking my kit for the final leg.  I was there for an hour and didn’t feel too bad considering that I had been walking for over 84 hours by that stage.  I was definitely confident that I would finish the race – finally, on my 3rd attempt.

Strava says I walked about 6.6km in the next 2 ½ hours sticking to the route which followed the river, but my recollection is that I was lost and walking around in circles and I couldn’t find my way out.  I kept seeing things I had already seen – Google says “People who are exhausted or stressed tend to experience déjà vu more” so that probably explains why I thought I was walking around in circles.

So it was now about 1:30am and I think I still knew I was in a race but I also started thinking that I had been abandoned in this field and that it was something to do with covid – some sort of outdoor covid detention or quarantine centre.

I then thought I saw some German farm workers in the distance and I waved my torch to get their attention but couldn’t, so I clambered through stinging nettles shouting out for help and eventually they saw me.  They weren’t actually German farm workers (I have no idea why I thought they were) but were railway workers replacing the line which also explains why they were up high above me and there was a barbed wire fence between us.

I told them that I had been abandoned in this field for two days and needed them to help me.  They hauled me over the fence and walked me back to a road and called an ambulance.  They probably thought I was an escaped mental health patient or something.  I remember they asked if I had had anything to eat or drink and I said I hadn’t eaten anything for two days.  My race number was under my over-trousers and while I was wearing my running vest with water bottles and food in it, they probably didn’t know what that was, or they were just going along with my story.

While waiting for the ambulance Maxine (one of the race organisers) rang me.  That was the first I knew I had a phone with me but while I knew who Maxine was I didn’t think I was in a race and she explained to the railway men that she would come and collect me.

The ambulance arrived and I was checked over and Maxine explained the situation to them and assured them that I was now withdrawn from the race and would be taken to the race HQ to have a sleep – not that I had any interest in re-joining the race at that stage anyway.  The ambulance team asked me to sign something authorising my release to Maxine so everything was done by the books and I want to thank both the ambulance team and the railway workers for their help – if anyone reading this knows anyone that was working on the railway line near Appleford station last night, please pass my thanks on to them.

Thanks to those of you that have messaged me asking if I am OK, and I’m sorry if I caused any concerns.  I also want to apologise to Maxine and Lindley (race organisers) and all the volunteers for any embarrassment I may have caused.  I have suffered minor hallucinations in races before but over the last four days I had some major mind-altering experiences that would cost the average drug user thousands of pounds to experience.

And lastly, this means that the Thames Ring has beaten me three times out of three attempts.  But if I wanted to do something easy it wouldn’t be a challenge.

“If you want to run, run a mile. if you want to experience a different life, run a marathon. if you want to talk to god, run an ultra.” – Dean Karnazes

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