RW Race Report: Down Tow Up Flow



by Justin Bowyer

down tow up flow
Credit: Dave Cox

When: July 24
Where: Marlow, Buckinghamshire
First man: Rupert Shute 1:17:45
First Woman: Penny McCrabbe 1:29:47
Last Finisher: 3:07:58
No. of Finishers: 677
PB potential: 64%
Overall rating: 88%

Some events depend on gimmicks - say superhero costumes or flaming bales of hay - while others are quietly confident enough to stand quite simply as expertly organised and scenic to boot.

The annual Down Tow Up Flow half marathon falls broadly into the latter category but throws in its own gimmick for good measure - by alternating the direction of the run from year to year. This year was a Down Tow-er, meaning a Marlow start and Eton finish for this joyous multi-terrain trot.
 
Runners departed in two waves based on estimated finish times, with the intention of avoiding too much bunching at the numerous gates that hamper progress along the Thames. But this had limited success over the first few miles as queues formed at bottlenecks.

Three, even four, wave starts would improve things - but understandably logistics prohibit such luxury. Nothing to do but accept this as par for this kind of course, forget PBs and just enjoy the views.

And what views! The route, with the exception of a two-mile detour that takes
you away from the water's edge, affords the sight of boats ranging from kayaks to luxury cruisers. It also passes the kind of riverside houses that, had I dedicated my life to merchant banking or crime, I could now be sitting in, watching sweaty runners puff by.

The terrain (mostly offroad) was treacherous at times. A dozen runners dropped with a thud at various points - testament to the nature of trail running, however well trodden the path. And well trodden it certainly was: large numbers of walkers and cyclists made for terrific support, although a small number of the latter treated it like the Pamplona Running of the Bulls.

The Eton finish was as impeccably organised as the rest of the event - personal namechecks at the line, medals, massages and more. Baggage drops and coaches seamlessly dealt with the point-to-point nature of the event, while the water stations and marshal points had been cheerfully manned along the well-marked route.

Hard to imagine a more perfect (or perfectly flat) introduction to trail running, I'm already looking forward to next year's Up Flow.

Did you take part in this race? Add your race rating or enter the 2012 "Down Tow Up Flow" Thames Towpath Half-Marathon.


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