- What: A grueling 22-mile Thames rowing marathon as well as a fun race for traditional river boats.
- When: A Saturday afternoon in September (September 5 om 2009)
- Where: Along 22-miles of the Thames from Richmond to Greenwich
- Admission: Free for spectators, entry fees for racers
Extra, Extra - River Race Reverses Course in 2009The 2009 race will be rowed in reverse - upriver from Greenwich to Richmond - so reverse all the details you'll find below and check out the special Reverse River Race website
From Vikings and Dragon Boats to Classic Crews on the ThamesThe annual Great River Race on the Thames has been taking place since 1988 and organizers like to bill it as The other London Marathon because at 22 miles, it is nearly as long. And like the London Marathon, it features a combination of serious competitors, charity racers, leisure and fun rowers.
More than 300 traditional river boats compete in the race, from Richmond, Surrey to Tower Hamlets - across the Thames from the Cutty Sark in Greenwich. In the past, rowers have included Viking long boats, Chinese dragon boats, Irish curraghs, traditional Thames Watermen and more conventional rowing boats. Crews come from all over the world - and some competitors even hire a boat just for the event.
To enter, boats have to be propelled by at least four oars, have to carry a passenger and have to have fixed, rather than sliding seats. That's it. Otherwise, anything goes. The boats are handicapped (according to a complicated computer program designed by naval architects - the organizers promise) and the start is staggered (slowest first, fastest last) with each boat individually timed. It can take at least an hour for all the boats to get underway. That also means you can start watching near Ham House in Surrey, then hop on the tube in Richmond and get to Greenwich with plenty of time to see the finishers.