The project of running the whole length of the Thames Path National Trail (295.7km) from the sea (Thames Barrier (1)) to its source via London and Oxford has been on the back-burner for quite a while now. The Thames Source Quest (TSQ) has been thought about for 2007, 2008, and 2009... It might eventually happen in 2010! I've considered three main variations so far:
  • 7 marathons in 7 days (coincidently the exact distance minus 350m)
  • 3 days of approx. 100km
  • 1 single stage
The 7-days option is fairly symbolic and has been done by Leo from the Chameleons in the past. The 3-days option has the advantage of running everything by daylight. Obviously the latter remains my favourite choice :) . More specifically, I would like to complete it in under 48 hours, ideally in 40 to 42 hours.

Obviously, this project has nothing in common with the Alps and their crazy ascents. The Thames goes down by only 110 meters between the source and its mouth. But there is some form of "purity" in the route that is greatly attractive. It couldn't be more natural, as it simply follows a river from one end to another, without (much) human considerations. Running towards the source is also quite symbolic of an escape from London and a quest for pure water. Indeed, I hope to be able to drink some water straight from the river once I'll be at the source. I guess I've got some kind of weird attraction to the Thames, probably loosely derived from some form of Victorian romanticism.

My current idea is to run solo and unsupported, but that might change later. Unsupported means that water supply will be a serious logistic issue. It's simply impossible to carry enough water for the whole length. Open shops/pubs might not be easily found, especially towards the more rural end and during the night. There is one obvious solution to this problem... drink the Thames water itself! Obviously after a bit of purification, and from the non-tidal section only (ie. passed Teddington lock). That would increase quite a lot the connection between the runner and the river, providing not only the route, but also the subsistence. More on that topic later.

Also, a few other Thames challenges appeal to me:
  • cycling in under 24 hours
  • walking in 7 days (42km/day)
  • canoeing (2) in 2 weeks (21km/day)?
  • swimming (2) in 20 days (15km/day)?
Ultra river.

(1) The Thames Barrier, although preventing the spring tides to get into the Thames, is not technically the limit between the river and the sea. The Thames mouth is officially located at Southend-on-Sea.
(2) I might want to perform those from the source downstream.