High pressure conditions ensured beautiful clear skies, but a rather chilly start and a biting headwind as the Cranleigh crews assembled at Reading on Sunday morning for the start of the Thameside 2 race. This was our longest race yet, covering 19 miles of the Themes and finishing just to the north of Marlow

As ever there was a great spirit and lots of familiar faces from previous events. However, unlike our previous paddles which were rather gentler time trials, this began with a mass start in which each class began at once, vying for pole position to get a good run at the first portage. Fortunately this year the organisers had split each class into odd and even race numbers, with a ten minute gap between them, making things slightly less reminiscent of the Whacky Races. 

Although there were fewer portages than in previous races, some of these were long and involved crossing busy pedestrian bridges over the huge weirs at Marsh and Marlow. The flow of the river also helped, making it difficult to keep up running alongside the crews.

Everyone finished in good style, with no swimming or tumbles. The support crews were also on fine form having now learnt the knack of posting jelly babies and sausages into the cuckoo-like mouths of their charges.

Things are looking good for next weekend and the even longer Waterside C which is 23 miles, with 35 portages – I won’t be running with the crews for that one!