There is an old proverb regarding things which are better for being
beaten, which is so politically incorrect that in 2018 I suspect I
risk jail merely for being aware of its existence. But today,
laughing in the very face of mercy and compassion, we are going to
Beat the Boat!
How so? Well, the boat leaves Richmond at 11am and docks at Hampton
Court an hour and forty-five minutes later, having travelled about
seven and a half miles. This corresponds to a pace of just over 13.5
minutes/mile, slightly faster than a brisk walk. So decide on a pace
that you'd like to achieve over that distance and count backwards
from 12:45 and that gives you your start time. Start running from
Richmond and see if you can get to Hampton Court before the boat
Well that sounds like a silly enough idea, let's go for it!
The beaters start to assemble. A couple of dozen or so have signed
on, aiming for paces between 20 min/mile - a genuine walk - to
sub-7:30, which is really quite quick! However, it's hot and getting
hotter, and as a wholly unofficial bit of fun, there are no marshals
or water stations or anything, so some caution is advised.
Amanda and Merilyn arrive, dropped off by Merilyn's husband. As an
A-to-B run, there are logistical issues if you don't fancy running
back again to make an ultra-half, so it's good that he's been able
to help out.
The walking team sets out. They're the only ones who'll start before
the boat does.
The boat departs!
Everyone else just stands around chatting for now. The 11min runners
won't start for another ten minutes, and our girls are planning to
do 8:30 so they have a fair old wait yet. Except that lots of people
are thinking maybe they'll drop down slightly in the conditions, so
9 minute pace it is. Still, Merilyn's friend Michelle is apparently
still gung-ho for sub-7:30!
And off they go in hot (literally) pursuit of the boat. There are
three other chaps running with them making the 9-minute group one of
if not the largest. The smallest group consists of just one person.
Right, time to jump on the bike to beat the beat-the-boaters.
I'm planning to stay roughly synchronised to Amanda, but get ahead
and behind at times to catch other participants, and of course the
theory is that everyone arrives more or less simultaneously. Let's
see how it works out....
They're all sticking together for now at least.
And at Teddington, where I've seen that earlier groups are already
dispersing. Seems like a nice little social club is forming.
Ah, but a little further along and one member has turned round and
started heading back. This is entirely planned though: his wife is
in hospital about to have a baby, so he's on emergency standby and
always intended to turn back halfway.
And here's the next group. I left before them so I don't know for
sure what pace they are running, but based on their arrival time
here, I'd guess they are real 8:30s.
They've all taken the route Amanda and I would normally use to cross
the river here, but at the Hampton Court Half the other month, we
learnt that there's another way. Come up the steps by John Lewis,
cross Kingston Bridge on the other pavement, then do a little loop
to the right and back under the bridge to return to the towpath. I
think it's slightly longer but you're less likely to be impeded by
the pedestrian horde so it may balance out.
But we will later find there's a third way we hadn't considered. If
you are not familiar with the area, you can go up the steps, then
stop and wait for the lights to change so you can cross the road.
And from the bridge, we can see the boat!
Getting close now, we have some of the 11-minuters mixing with
Aha! The boat! Observant readers may notice that it's not the same
boat as in the earlier picture. Correct. The service sometimes
requires a change of boat at Kingston, but I'm not completely
certain why. I'd guess it's something like one of the boats can't
get under the bridge if the water is too high or risks running
aground if the water is too low, but the operating company doesn't
And here's the first boat beater!
You may wonder why you can't see the boat behind him if he's beaten
it. Well that's because technically it's in front of him, but it's
still in the process of turning around before it can come in to
However, it most definitely should be behind him: the boat
has arrived well ahead of schedule!
Merilyn puts on a little finishing spurt and she's beaten it too.
And it's Amanda's turn a moment later.
The heat hasn't slowed them quite as much as expected, perhaps,
because our 9-minuters have actually achieved 8:37 or so by Amanda's
GPS, and obviously the other two guys must have been ahead of their
own estimates too.
After them, there's a little bit of a gap, which is why we have time
for this group photo.
"You can still make it! The boat cheated! It's early!"
Having seen the boat, they had naturally assumed they were simply
too late, but no: they still have time to beat the boat's schedule
if they're quick. And they do, hurrah!
12:44 pm, the target time, and everyone is here to point a finger at
the man responsible for it all.
One guy is suffering a bit, but I believe he'll be fine later, just
We all definitely need to take on some liquid now: oh, look, there's
a pub across the road!
Gosh, medals too!
They are, it is true, not the grandest medals the world has
ever seen, but who cares! They are special medals for special
Well that was a lark, we beat the boat. We must do it again.
Love to all,