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Kennet & Avon Canal 145 mile Race (KACR)

26-Jul-2019 Bristol Temple Meads, UK (England)


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Trail Race Race Terrain
233KM / 145Miles
1 Day - 100 Runners

DIFFICULTY Race Difficulty Advanced  

Entry From £60 GBP

This non-stop race is from Temple Meads Railway Station, Bristol, along the way-marked Kennet & Avon Canal towpath, Thames Path National Trail and Grand Union Canal towpath to Paddington Railway Station, London.


Event Organiser
Keith Godden



Elevation: Very little change < 500 metres. Benign running terrain, not technical.

Suitable for: First ultra runners completing a marathon or doing regular long distance running in the last six months.


Elevation: Increase of up to 1000 metres

Suitable for: Runners who have completed at least one ultra distance race (or similar event) or are doing long distance running (>26 miles) regularly, with elevation shown.


Elevation: Increase of up to 1500 metres

Suitable for: Runners who have completed several ultra distances or similar events, or are doing long distance running regularly, with elevation shown.


Elevation: Increase of up to 2000 metres with some challenging climatic conditions (e.g. ice, snow, humidity or heat) and or technical terrain

Suitable for: Experienced runners who have completed at least regular ultra distances in last 12 months, or are doing regular long distance running (>50 miles) with elevation and conditions shown (where possible). Admission to these races may be subject to evidence of recent qualifying race participation and recent medical examination certificate. Check with the race organiser regarding entry requirements.


Elevation: Increase of up to 2000 metres with very challenging climatic conditions (e.g. ice, snow, humidity, heat or at high altitude) and or technical terrain.

Suitable for: Very experienced long distance ultra runners (min 3 years’ experience) or are doing regular long distance running (>50 miles) with elevation and conditions shown (where possible). Admission to these races is often subject to evidence of recent qualifying race participation and recent medical examination certificate. Purchase of specialist kit is often recommended for these races.

Endurance - Multi-activity

Type: An ultra distance race including at least two of the following activities such as running, swimming, cycling, kayaking, skiing and climbing. It may also include different climatic conditions (eg ice, snow, humidity, cold water, mud or heat).

Suitable for: Experienced multi-skilled athletes who have trained for the different activities included in this event. Admission to these races may be subject to receipt of a recent medical examination certificate. Check with the race organiser regarding entry requirements and any specialist equipment required such as a wetsuit, skis or a mountain bike.

Global - Virtual

Type: A virtual race which can be run at any time shown on the dates shown, on any type of terrain in any country.

Suitable for: For runners from beginners to experienced as you choose your own course and challenge based on the guidelines and options set by the virtual race organiser.

Review Kennet & Avon Canal 145 mile Race (KACR)

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10:38 12-08-18

2018KACR newbie visits a dark place!
145 miles from Bristol
Templemeads to London Paddington

I am 52 yrs old and should know better! Slightly overweight, not runner shaped at all and I am hopeless at following any training plan so generally turn up and hope! Longest ever run was the 100K Race to the Stones last year.

04:30 Friday morning in a hotel next to Bristol
Templemeads and up with coffee,
porridge in a pot and a banana having watched the final episode of Eddie Izzards "marathon man" for inspiration the evening before. Kit check and pack the bag that would meet me at all ten checkpoints.
06:00 and after the apparently compulsory
motivational speech of " there's a prize for first male and female and bugger all for the rest of you" about 60 of us are off along the picturesque river Avon to our first CP at Bath. First leg incident free, chatting to other
competitors and revelling in a personal shout out from Chris Evans on Radio 2 as I had been listening via an
earpiece, arrived at CP1 too fast at 08:20 with nearly 14 miles done. A quick top up of
water, first of too many brufen, a couple of snack bars put into the hydro vest, greased the vitals and off again.
Issued waterproof maps are easy to follow (even with me getting my Poundland fold away glasses out each time!) as we join the Kennet and Avon canal towards
Bradford-on-Avon and the day getting warm with temps getting up to mid twenties and still mid teens that night.

Leg 2, following the Kennet &Avon canal over two very pretty aqueducts and stopping for a bottle of coke at a canal side cafe in Bradford-on-Avon I continue to make steady progress jogging a little prouder and taller after a lady competitor compliments the shape of my
behind to her running partner!! Chatted to another fellow runner Chris I think, who had unfortunately had to withdraw from the GUCR earlier in the year after 128 miles with only 17 to go, this worried me and I couldn't get my head around withdrawing so close to the end (being a very inexperienced newbie) and I clearly did not understand what was to come both physically and mentally.

CP 2, 27 miles done and well under the cut off time, I again topped up with amazing help from the volunteers who wouldn't even let me move my bag but insisted they do it while I ate, drank and greased! I had taped a to-do list on top of my bag so that I didn't forget anything at a CP as I started to get tired; food, drink, pain killers, GREASE (this will become a theme!), brufen, any clothing changes, phone battery life and head torch for the night.
Off towards Devizes which is close to where I live so I know the area and the Caen locks incline well, consisting of I believe of 29 locks in less than a mile and very impressive to look at but not run (sorry, walk up) at about 35 miles in. Stopped at the canal trust cafe at the top for more coke and a very helpful top up of water from the lovely staff and
continued on alone moving to a very rough run/walk strategy but feeling quite good in the building heat.
Random thoughts, started and continued to fart a lot, not sure if it was all the coke or the old and varied protein bars I was eating but any jet assistance was gratefully received! Focusing on map reading and my audio book, I topped up my phone with a spare power pack (which had a dodgy connection so I had to hold the phone to get it to charge) and made the now closed Barge Inn, CP 3 and
almost 50 miles done. Cold rice pudding was a welcome change of food and with the amazing bag arrival, top up, brufen, grease and volunteer
assistance the usual CP routine was completed in quick order.

Leg 4 although still very picturesque was a lonely one with a lot more walking involved, that said I had been in
regular text contact with my ever wonderful and supportive wife Penny and I started to post updates to Facebook as I walked as well as to my running and tri club page Calne SMaRTT and was showered with loads of messages of support which really helped to keep me on track.
A welcomed call from Penny and I found out that she and my daughter would be at CP 4 near Hungerford to see me. This leg also saw us pass the original (and still
occasionally working) Crofton beam engine which pumps water into the canal at its high point, so generally instead of running steadily up through the locks we would be hopefully generally be going down through the locks (I will take any small psychological advantage I can at this point!).
Did the usual little stronger jog as I saw my family coming into the CP at 1930 so that I didn't look too bad and 60 miles done. Change of top and socks to feel a bit fresher along with the usual top up, food, GREASE! and of course the all important head torch and spare batteries as the half way CP would be well after dark.
Soon after leaving this checkpoint I passed through Hungerford and I knew the local
co-op would be open and grabbed another coke and chocolate bar with the ever present contactless card before heading into the gloom of evening. At this point I got a
FaceTime call from my club mates who were having our summer BBQ and bantered away the next 10 mins with them holding drinks and generally taking the p*ss! Great moral boosting stuff!

Bloody tree roots! I must have kicked loads of them in the gloom of the head torch which not only made me a bit grumpy but also agony on the big toes. A few miles short of the half way mark I caught and ran with a young lady called Georgie who was a real
ultra veteran and with at least 200 marathons to her name who said she was going to do the Niagara marathon later in the year,
fortunately my family and I had recently been on holiday there so we had plenty to chat about and hopefully I helped with some little personal knowledge of the area and getting around.
Coming into Newbury the bars were full of life and we received a few drunken shouts and comments but navigated our way through the town centre and finally came upon CP 5 and half way at 72.4 miles.
Now at this point I had been noticing a little
chafing pain in the shorts dept and also some discomfort in my feet, time for some investigation! Hiding around the back of the van it was clear that a change of running
underwear was needed as well as lots of grease and at this point I changed back to the trusty old vaseline. Feet too looked a bit sore so more grease and a sock change with the hope that it wouldn't deteriorate (how wrong I was!).

After a quick snack of hot quiche and beans supplied by the amazing CP fairies we were off again with Georgie meeting a friend
buddy runner within the next mile or two who would run with her to the end. Friend found, we separated a bit as we continued in the dark and as I was going a little slower having to focus on the map and not tripping over we soon lost sight. Soon catching a fellow
runner who was walking and clearly
struggling, I walked with him for a bit to make sure he was ok and he assured me he would make the next CP but had an injury to his knee which meant he would probably have to withdraw. I said that I would inform the next CP so that they knew he would be much slower in reaching them.
Now, back to the chafing which was
becoming a problem. I carry a very small container of extra grease but with sweaty and still slightly greasy hands from the last CP I couldn’t get a grip to unscrew it! After lots of swearing and failed attempts I finally had the inspiration to roll it in the dirt to give me the grip and put on some much needed grease. On through the night, no navigation mishaps and CP6 86.4 miles arrived where I passed on the info about the walking
competitor before the usual routine and checking my CP to-do list and setting off into Reading.
The CP fairies not only book you in/out but write a comment beside your name! This time for me it was 25th and "excruciating pain, Vaseline relief”. That kinda sums it up!

Now I have never run this far or this long before so the question at the start "to Imodium or not" got its
answer and
carrying a small amount of the right equipment with an out of way spot got me back on track and feeling a little better. A short time later coming into Reading town centre the heavens opened and although I was able to shelter I still got a bit cold as I wasn't carrying a jacket and also my feet got wet which was not good.
20 mins later it stopped as it got light and I made my way through a deserted city centre to the other side of the city where in a park just at the start of the Thames were people setting up for the local park run. I got great encouragement and congrats as I cheekily jogged under their finish banner, the organisers saying how amazed and crazy the distance was.
Now following the river I crossed Henley bridge passing some amazing riverside properties and now running next to the regatta course which I know well from my Dragon boat days and the Henley Winter Series around Temple island and back.
Starting to walk a lot now I chatted to my wife, caught up on messages and received a great amount of "get your head in the right place" advice from my good friend Janet an old fire service work colleague who
completed the GUCR last year.

09:00, CP 7, the flower pot inn and 103 miles. This time the board comment was "first chair refusal" I hadn't sat down at any CP for fear of trying to get up! Again some warm food, pain killers and off after lots of grease, the pain in my shorts and feet were becoming a real problem now and I decided not to check my toes anymore (probably a wrong,
inexperience move!) as I thought there was nothing I could do now anyway and just keep greasing under my shorts as I was now carrying my large pot of Vaseline with me. On through a picturesque country park and back to the river, then on through Marlow and Maidenhead where it was great to see lots of people again out enjoying the sunshine and looking a bit bemused at this hobbling, bedraggled mess crawling past with a
number pinned to his shorts! I called my wife again as I needed a bit of a boost as the pain was now getting really severe and I was in a bit of a dark place, got my "man up talk" and lots of encouragement as well as telling me that they would be there at the finish and had booked a last minute hotel at Paddington (I was just going to wait at the station for the next train home!).
Shortly after to my surprise I got a call from one of my running club mates who was very thoughtful in thinking that a quick chat might help as my Facebook messages were indicating that I was in a bit of trouble. She gave some great advice as well as indicating that members of the club were following my progress closely and some were waiting for my next post!
Stopped at a pub for a quick pint of the
coldest coke ever (severe brain freeze!) as well as an ice cream kiosk soon after taking the Eddie Izzard approach to nutrition before managing painfully to get to CP 8 at 13:30, 116 miles and the start of the short section of the Jubilee river.
Jogged with a guy along this gravel track section
(apologies as I can't
remember his name) before exiting onto a road which would take us up, yes uphill! through Slough high street to some weird looks and again a stop at a corner shop for supplies before finally turning right onto the Grand Union Canal.

I was in pain but elated to get to this point knowing I was on the last part, so far we had run on some beautiful parts of the K and A canal and the river Thames, but
unfortunately this part of the GUC is a little different! Strewn with detritus, empty bottles and scrap metal it is such a shame as it could be so much better with a little effort.
No locks but instead it was counting down the bridges one by one on a long 4 mile straight stretch of never ending canal before turning right into CP 9 at Yiewsley and 128 miles done.
Once again my wife and daughter were there to meet me and try as I might to appear ok I was in a right state!
Though my
wonderful lady loves to buy food and snacks for me to have at the
checkpoints, my stomach along with everything else was rebelling badly and for the first time on the route I SAT!
I know I didn't say a lot and nearly threw up after just one
mouthful of instant pasta in a cup, I knew I had to get going before I threw in the towel. Now I really know what my fellow competitor Chris went through when he had to withdraw from the GUCR, getting even to this point is a zero guarantee of a finish, with all common sense telling you to stop. Respect sir!

I must have walked the next mile or so trying to get my stomach to settle, which it eventually did and went back to focusing on the now almost unbearable constant pain in my shorts and feet knowing also that my only other nav point was a left turn at Bulls bridge onto the Paddington arm of the canal and all the way to the finish, a long last leg of
around 17 miles. Kept myself going by replying to messages of support with some of my home club members refusing to go to bed until they knew I had finished! A call again from my worried wife who would meet me at the black Horse pub en-route and
order a bowl of chips and more coke ready for when I arrived. This worked a treat and I felt much better afterwards for the last push.
Head torch on I passed several groups of youngsters who were out enjoying themselves and were curious as to the event and one guy who turned around on his bike and walked with me for about ten minutes taking a real interest in the run and offering me some flapjack from his left over lunch (don't think it was funny flapjack..I think..possibly not… maybe, who knows!)
Walking nearly constantly now I passed over the last few access bridges which felt like mountains and saw my wife in the distance, I must be at the finish I said to myself but..........No!
My ever supportive wife had decided to walk along the canal from the finish to meet me, unfortunately I was so slow on this last leg that she had managed to walk nearly a mile (further than I have ever known her to
voluntarily walk) and she then had to put up with me constantly saying "we must be there now, surely!" Then it was suddenly in sight, no crowds just a simple finish banner and tent with the ever present amazing CP
volunteers. This time though a simple hand shake, very heavy medal placed over the head and many congratulations with a photo from Keith (one the main organisers) and I was done.
Never really took it all in at the time, I was so tired and in pain all I wanted was a shower and bed, 22nd out of only 33 finishers in a time of 40:52 for an inexperienced newbie was a minor miracle.

Now two weeks on with my feet getting back to normal (minus a few toe nails!) I can look back on an achievement of completing the event as a newbie and having never run
further than 100k before. This isn't a big sponsored event with loads of back up, hot food and medics at each CP. This is a raw, no frills amazing event, and I think because of this the camaraderie between runners is exceptional with people willing to chat to keep you going or share food/kit if your short. Awesomely organised by a wonderful small team of organisers, CP volunteers and bag drop fairies.
I'm not sure if Keith knew what that simple hand shake meant to me at the end but it is definitely the most amazing finish line I have ever crossed, a definite game
But I will definitely need to sort out a proper foot regime and find a better
anti-chafe product if I continue with the ultra distances!

Just a simple thank you.

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