The lovely Thame 10k road race
The Thame 10k road race is one of my favourite events locally. Also, this was my first ever 10k race on my running journey in 2017 when starting out, before fracturing my leg. Since then, I have revisited the event every year and now make it a permanent fixture of my race calendar. Thame Runners organise the event, a mixed ability club catering for all types of runners. They hold regular training days in the evenings on Monday and Wednesday and also on Sunday mornings.
Location and race details
Thame is a thriving market town in the heart of Oxfordshire, situated at the foot of the Chiltern Hills. It is located approximately 13 miles east of Oxford and 10 miles southwest of the Buckinghamshire town of Aylesbury. Thame derives its name from the River Thame, which flows along the north side of the centre. The iconic boat-shaped High Street stands as testimony to the historic market place for which it was originally designed. Plenty of restaurants and café line the high street, and a market continues to this day.
There was a limit of 1000 entrants, minimum age of 15, cost of entry £16 affiliated, £18 unaffiliated in advance. The event is quite popular and sells out each year, so you have to remember to register before its too late. Venue facilities were listed as; parking in town-centre car parks, changing facilities (including showers), chip timing, free technical T-shirt and medal supplied by the sponsors, CPM and Thame Runners.
The course profile is pretty much flat and doesn’t have many twist or turns. Therefore, there is a real chance for a personal best at this race.
I overslept after travelling back from Cornwall and via Sommerset the day before. I usually like to take my time and arrive at races reasonably early to not feel so rushed. Fortunately, I was lucky to find a parking place a short distance from the venue on a side road. The race headquarters and start are held at the Thame Leisure Centre on the edge of the town. A café at the rear of the complex provides refreshments before and after the race if needed.
Last year a group of friends and I all decided to enter the race. This year the plan was the same. However, two of the group couldn’t make it, one was expecting, and the other had not long given birth to another child. My friend Rachel wasn’t sure to run as she hadn’t managed to get out to train. As a consequence, we decided to run together from start to finish taking a ‘Jeffing’ approach (run-walk). This also suited me as quite tired after my holiday and journey back from Cornwall.
It was pretty easy to collect your bib number and timing chip (located on the back of the number). You simply looked for your name on a board to find out which queue to collect from.
The route and recap
The race started on the grass playing field at the back of the leisure centre in a starting funnel/pen. We started at the rear as we were not looking to pursue a personal best. Just to get around was enough. The race begins by leaving the field and turning right on to a closed road. The route then heads towards the high street down a slight decline. The first half of the run is entirely traffic-free with road closures. The second half of the race is also traffic-free on the Phoenix trial which you will find out.
Following the road, you go over a small brook (Cuttle Brook), which is fed from the River Thame. In the distance, you can see a Church tower as you approach the town centre. At the end of the road, you pass a thatched cottage and turn right leading you to the high street.
Several groups of onlookers cheered and encouraged as you passed through the long high street. I certainly enjoy this route, as once through the high street you have already run a couple of kilometres. Time appears to go fairly swiftly without you even realising it. The course then veers away from the high street into the outskirts of the town towards the neighbouring village Towersey.
Eventually, you reach the halfway point and water stop on the Phoenix Trail. There’s a slight embankment to climb, about 15 meters or so long to bring you on to the Phoenix Trail. The water stop is located just at the top, and then the race takes back in the direction of the finish. You could describe the route as an out and back loop.
The Phoenix Trail is a disused railway line. Nowadays, it is a flat tarmac path which links the town Princess Risborough to Thame. Even on the Phoenix Trail, there was friendly support from local residents. A couple of children had water pistols giving you a quick spray to cool you down. Similarly, one resident was spraying a mist of water with her hosepipe as you went past. In addition to the water stop at 5k, another refreshment station was situated at the 8k mark. Jellie babies, Orange quarters and water were the offerings. It was just what was needed on a warm day at the end of June towards the end of the race.
On exiting the trail, you knew there was not long to go to reach the finish. When approaching the leisure centre, runners who had already finished encouraged stating “not far to go”, “nearly there”, “well done, just a little further” etc. On entering the leisure centre grounds, you could immediately see the inflatable finish arch. The compere read out your names and encouraged as you approached the finish line.
You received your technical T-shirt which this year was blue. Each year the T-shirt is a different colour. You were also given water or an energy drink, your choice, and of course your medal. The medal was the same as last year just with a different ribbon. It was an improvement in comparison to the off the peg medal in 2017. But, as the same as last year, it was a little disappointing. Us runners do love a bit of bling to add to our collections. I suppose you could say the medal was somewhat ‘Thame’, excuse the pun. That would be my only tiny criticism.
Although the medal was the same as last year, I very much enjoy the Thame 10k. It’s well organised, the route is good, and so is the support along the way in the various stages of the race. All the marshals were fantastic and encouraging. A brilliant flat local 10k which I will always try to enter.
I’m going to give the Thame 10k a score of 4.25 out of 5 on the Runiversity of life™ Runometer™
Route and elevation profile
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