The Thames Marathon, now in its 8th year, is a 14km long-distance challenge swim from Henley-on-Thames to Marlow. It covers a beautiful stretch of the Thames and has become one of open water swimming’s most prestigious marathon swims.
The swim is split into 4 sections. Swimmers will be required to exit the water at the 3 locks (Hambledon at 4km, Hurley at 10km and Temple at 11.8km) where food and drink will be available.
Participants have the choice of waves – the first wave will be for faster swimmers wanting to compete against the clock.
Wetsuit places for the 2018 event are still available.
There are a limited number of non-wetsuit places available. These have all be allocated for 2018. However due to changes in circumstances, places do become available throughout the year. We are therefore operating a WAITING LIST. To add yourself to the non-wetsuit waiting list, please apply here.
In 2018 the Thames Marathon 14km swim will start at The Leander club, Henley and finish at Higginson Park, Marlow.
The official car parking will be in Henley, at Wargrave Meadows, Wargrave Rd. From here you will take the short walk to the start venue at Leander club. After you have finished your swim and had some food and collected your finisher medal, we will transport you back to Henley. Supporters will be able to pay on the day to use the coach service.
We will transport one small bag (3-4kg) for each swimmer. We will tag your bag for identification purposes, and have it waiting for you at the finish area. We try and be careful but accidents do happen -please don’t use your best bag as we can’t be held responsible for any damage suffered in transit.
Absolutely, in fact we encourage it. The more people who swim together and look out for each other, the safer the event is. If you wish to swim with friends, please make sure that you all enter the same wave.
We have a fully approved safety plan that ensures coverage across the full course throughout the event. In addition ALL swimmers will be required to use a tow-float at the 2018 event.
We do have a small number of non-wetsuit places available. . This is to minimise the risk to our safety plan. Wetsuits are important for retaining heat and providing buoyancy. If you would like a non-wetsuit place your application will be assessed by the events team for approval. Our decision is final on wetsuits and no discussion can be entered into. We advise swimmers to be prepared to wear a wetsuit if asked, on the day.
Non-wetsuit places have now been allocated for 2018 and a waiting list is in operation
There will be 3 feed stops in 2018 – one at each lock: Hambleden (4km), Hurley (10km) and Temple (11.8km)
We will provide a bit of everything, including bananas, energy bars, energy drinks, water, some chocolate, sweets, and some salty snacks. A couple of the stops will also have hot drinks.
The pink wave, for faster swimmers that wish to race against the clock, will go off first. The remaining waves will go off at 20 minute intervals (timetable subject to change).
Faster swimmers that wish to swim against the clock, and have a 1500m pool time of 25 minutes or less should select the pink wave.
Other swimmers should select either the blue or the green wave. In 2018 both of these waves will be of mixed ability. If you wish to swim with a group, make sure you all select the same wave. The BLUE WAVE is now SOLD OUT. If you are not a pink wave swimmer, please select the green wave.
The first (pink) wave will set off at 7am, with approximately 20 minutes in between the waves. These timings are provisional and are subject to change.
We would recommend that if you are not presently able to complete a 1500m swim in under 45mins it might be as well to target a shorter event and then build for the 2019 Thames Marathon.
There will be a cut-off time of six and a half hours, where all swimmers will need to be out of the river.
There are toilets at the start at Leander club, and at the finish at Higginson Park. We are aiming to have a toilet stop at one of the food stations as well.
The route is walkable, by following The Thames Path. Download the route here – Thames Marathon Walking Route.
It is also possible to cycle the route, although there are a large number of kissing style gates where you may have to lift your bikes to get through.
Although an occasional illness can be an occupational hazard when swimming in the Thames, there were a few more than we would expect. We always test the water to ensure it falls within acceptable European bathing standards and have never had a failed test. Indeed Henley Open Water swimming club (and others) swim a number of times a week (throughout the year) on and around the same stretch and stomach upsets are extremely rare. It was particularly puzzling in that we had no recorded illnesses from the night before on the same stretch, at the Club to Pub swim. Upon further investigation it seems very likely that a combination of events contributed to the water contamination. Firstly there were some issues with old sewer pipes that are known for getting blocked, and secondly the very heavy rain fall (flash flood) on Saturday night created some flooding into the Thames. Although this is of little consolation to the individuals who suffered, it is useful for us to understand how it happened. The good news is that Thames water have replaced the old “problem” pipes.