This past weekend Chelsea and I did the most traveling within England that we have done since arriving back in January. The major reason for our gallivanting the countryside was that Chels’ Uncle Wayne came over to run a half marathon in a small town called Henley. Some of you may remember Uncle Wayne as the good-humored officiant of our wedding. Henley is between Oxford and London, and one of the few places we couldn’t get to easily by public transportation on a Sunday morning. Easy for us though, as we just rented a car the entire weekend and drove all over.
As you may have guessed from the title of this post, Henley is located right on the Thames river, and has this nice bridge going right across it. Henley is also famous for its shirts and rowing. Well, I don’t really know about the former, but the latter is definitely true. I think one of the reasons Uncle Wayne convinced Aunt Jan to make the journey over here was to visit a major center of rowing in the U.K. right here in Henley.
In fact, Jan got back to her Olympic rowing roots and took a few trips along the river, and went on a full tour of the famous boathouse. We heard plenty about many details of rowing that I had no idea about, but we also learned that Henley is the location of the famous Oxford-Cambridge rowing clashes.
Back to the race – it was a half marathon, and it should be stated that distance is more than Chelsea and I have run, so we could appreciate the athletic feat. The picture above has a funny story. We were standing in a prime location right along the race route hoping to pick out Wayne and his friend Jamie as they passed by. What we didn’t expect, was the sheer volume of racers. I figured that a sleepy little town wouldn’t have very many people in the race, but I saw people with bib numbers approaching 1500. The size of the field made it very difficult for us to pick Wayne and Jamie out of a running crowd, and I didn’t manage to recognize them until after they had passed, so they are in the far end of this picture. The second point I gathered from the number of people, is that many many people are in much better shape than I am. All makes and models of people passed us by, and we truly did find their experience inspiring – we went for a nice long run when we got home.
Wayne was also a source of inspiration. Not only did he travel here from California to run this race, but here he is just minutes after running at a good clip for about two hours looking as fresh as if he was just starting. I was probably more out of breath than he was. After seeing all the runners finish, I think I would like to run a race of similar distance at some point in my life, but I suppose I have to find some time to dedicate to training first.
Just a quick side picture to show Jan and I showing off our seemingly coordinated but completely unplanned fall fashion look.
And of course a trip to a town here in England wouldn’t be complete without a pint, or in this case a nice pub lunch. We had lunch at a pub just down the street from the location of the old Brakspear brewery. Brakspear is the “Oxford Ale”, and we drink plenty of it here on the weekends. Although the beer isn’t made in Henley anymore, it was neat to see the origins of a nice British Ale.
It is always nice to see friendly faces in a foreign place, and our visit from Wayne and Jan proved to be just that. We really enjoyed seeing them and using their visit as an excuse to check out other parts of England on a perfect Sunday afternoon.