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How to reach Little Venice
How to reach Little Venice
5 time finisher Glyn Marston offers advice on how to complete the race.
I often get asked "How on earth do you run for 145 miles?"
I suppose that now I have finished for the past three years in a row - I must be doing something right. To be honest, I have to give all credit to the people that turn out to support me - I'm very lucky to have such friends as members of Sneyd Striders running club, who feed me, make sure I take on enough drink ,and encourage/butt-kick me all the way to Little Venice. So, on the start line, I have the attitude that I'm doing this race for my club, and not just for myself - and I don't want to let them down (after all they have given up their weekend to come and support me). Come the weekend of the race, you should be confident that you have done enough training to carry you through (I could bore you with a training plan, but if you have entered then you should know what training you have to do), but there is also the mental aspect to this event - keeping yourself focused, keeping a positive attitude all the way along the towpath (which can be a little difficult if the heavens open up, and a downpour of rain comes along).
Study the maps (1 and 3) in the weeks that lead up to the race, this way you can build a mental picture of where you are on the race, I break down the 145 miles by thinking of the next town/place that I will be running to:
From Gas Street Basin I have Hatton Locks in my sights, from Hatton Locks - Braunston; from Braunston - Stoke Bruerne; from Stoke Brueme - Milton Keynes; from Milton Keynes - Fenny Stratford where I feel delighted that map 1 is out of the way - bring on map 3!
From Fenny Stratford, I have The Grand Junction Arms in my mind, and the great cheer you get from the marshals here. It is also here that, when I pass the 100 mile mark, I know I will reach the finish line. Next is a pub called "The Swan and Bottle" near Denham Marina (some 126 miles into the race). This is one of a few pubs where you may find my support team - who partake in the odd pint while waiting for me to arrive (and a nice pint they have there -so they tell me!!). After the Swan and Bottle, my mind is focused on the last checkpoint - Hamborough Tavern, and the great guys who cheer you on to the finish.
Along the race, you will experience the highs of running the furthest distance you have run to date, but with them come the lows of extreme fatigue (heavy legs etc), There is also the night to contend with for Saturday night you have to take on the dark towpath, which is when a buddy to run with comes in very useful - someone to chat to you and keep you in a positive frame of mind. From experience anyone who makes it through the night should be a certainty to reach Little Venice.
As for food and drink, each year I plan what I'll have, and at what point I take it on board - however this goes out the window some 65 miles along the towpath, where I listen to my body (it's usually screaming "I've had enough of this bloody energy stuff - I want a bag of chips.") because, in my opinion, if it feels good at the time "EAT IT"!! Never let your body get into the state where you find you don't feel like eating, or it takes ages to chew on snacks because you don't want to swallow any food - from experience, refusing food is a sign that your body is about to give up - which means at some point you will just stop, and you will not get going again. This is where a good support team comes in very useful, mine will not allow me to go into this state, ensuring and checking on my intake.
One final point, Dick Kearn and his great troop of supporters do encourage each and everyone toward Little Venice, and if given one wish they would want everyone who takes up their position on the start line to reach the finish line (I know that Dick would love to see this happen one year), and it is this thought that keeps me going. We all say hello to Dick at Gas Street Basin and see the delight on his face as t
he "usual runners" turn up to run in this great event. Well, for those of you who want some motivation to help you reach Little Venice, then you should see the look of excitement on his face (and the other marshals) when you cross the finish line - I can tell you, it is well worth the 145 miles just to experience the hero's welcome you get from everyone present at Little Venice.
I can't offer a guaranteed way of running the whole 145 miles, that is down to the individual and their mental and physical strengths, but one thing to remember on the Grand Union Canal Race -enjoy it and take it as it comes. It's a great weekend and a race that will have you coming back each and every year.