I very rarely enjoy running long distances alone and find that it’s much nicer and easier to share the miles and let the clock tick by together rather than struggle on with just me, myself and I. Finding someone to put up with your banter, or moans, for longer than a few hours can be difficult, despite being in a running club and part of various running communities. Step up…Advent Running – and their no-medals, just running – Bridges Ultra.
The premise was simple. Not a race but a movement. A 54km run along the Thames, crossing the river 23 times, starting at Woolwich Foot Tunnel and ending in Richmond. Of course if you didn’t want to run the full distance, there were plenty of opportunities to hop in and join the crew –
42.2km (marathon distance) from Greenwich Foot Tunnel
35km from London Bridge
24km from Chelsea Bridge
18.5 km from Putney Bridge
13km from Hammersmith Bridge
9km from Chiswick Bridge
I joined the gang at London Bridge – arriving before the predicted time but having to wait a little as the crew running the 20km from the start were clearly having too much fun taking selfies and practicing their race nutrition aka coffee and beer! – and we set off at a leisurely 6min/km pace, weaving our way through the crowds of tourists already on the Southbank and around Westminster. As we were running the ‘Bridges Ultra,’ the aim was to cross every bridge we got to, hopping from the North to the South sides of the Thames each time. At every bridge we also picked up more budding runners and it was exciting to spot the brightly coloured lycra and trucker caps, that the Advent Runners are famous for, waiting for us as we ran towards them over the bridges. After re-grouping on Chelsea Bridge we ran through Battersea Park to the Albert Bridge, made famous from the Made in Chelsea opening scenes, and then I felt like we were on home territory with 15km done and less than 20km to go. From here, some that had started from Woolwich took a pit stop for food, so myself and a few others formed a smaller group and headed off, picking up the pace to around 5.30min/km.
Arriving at Putney Bridge I wasn’t even tempted to call it a day and head home, which was oh so closeby, but instead used my favourite loo stop at the Star and Garter pub on the embankment and then headed onwards along the familiar towpath to Hammersmith, Barnes, Chiswick, Kew and finally Richmond. Like any good and well planned run, our finishing line was a pub, the White Cross on the riverside, where we could refresh, refuel and cheer on everyone coming in. My watch beeped for 33km covered as we crossed the last bridge, making that number 20 for the day, and arrived outside the pub to welcome cheers from other Advent Runners. What a run, what a community, that’s how to do a long Sunday run!