The Great River Race is an annual rowing race on London's River Thames, sometimes known as London's River Marathon. The course is a grueling 21.6 miles long and runs upstream from the Docklands area in the east to Ham in Richmond in the west. Over 300 traditional row boats and paddled crafts take part in the event including Chinese dragon boats, Hawaiian war canoes, and Viking longboats.
The event attracts competitors from around the world. Many compete to win but there are far more that take part for fun or to raise money for charity.
The History of the Event
The first race took place in 1988 when 72 entrants took to the water in 20 boats representing six different countries. Competitors included young Sea Cadets, rowing veterans, and boating enthusiasts. The event has now quadrupled in size and has attracted an array of vessels like a replica bronze age Greek galley and the world's oldest racing rowing boat which dates back to the 1800s. The international event has attracted a few stars along the way including Sting and Jerry Hall and it's the most prestigious event of its kind in Europe.
When Does it Happen
This annual event takes place in September close to The Mayor's Thames Festival. The start time is usually around 10 AM.
Where to Watch
Tower Bridge is one of the most popular spectator spots so it's recommended to watch from London Bridge, the next bridge along the River Thames.
Other popular bridges include:
- Richmond Bridge
- Hammersmith Bridge
- Wandsworth Bridge
- Battersea Bridge
- Westminster Bridge