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The Great River Race London
River Thames
TfL Fare Zones 1 to 4
If you happen to be in London in early September and enjoy a great day out, then take the opportunity to watch the annual Great River Race. The Race starts from Greenwich and runs 21 miles (34 km) upstream to Ham at Richmond.
This is a ‘London Marathon for Rowers’. Crews from all over the world, many in fancy dress, are sent on their way with the firing of cannon. It is a handicap race with the slowest teams starting first. The fastest crews usually catch up and overtake the slower ones, engaging in fierce competition and close finishes.
The race commemorates the River Thames’ traditional method of carrying passengers by river barge. Entries are restricted to traditional-style, coxed craft powered by a minimum of four oars or paddles.
In keeping with the Worshipful Company of Watermen & Lightermen’s historic responsibility ‘to apprentice and license Watermen to carry passengers on the tidal Thames’, each boat has to carry a passenger.
Over the years the race has attracted many fascinating entries – Gigs, Skiffs, Celtic Longboats, Cutters, Curraghs, Dragon Boats, Whale boats and an assortment of novelty craft. You never know what you will see next.
300 Boats & 2,000 Competitors
The object of the exercise is to beat the Watermen’s shallop. Entries now nudge 300 boats carrying some 2,000-odd competitors racing for 35 trophies. The Great River Race has become the biggest and most prestigious event of its kind in Europe.
The Race website gives a good overview of this spectacle: It is not really possible to follow the Race from start to finish so the best idea is to pick a vantage point from which to watch as the boats flash past!
Obviously any of the London bridges, including the Millennium Bridge and even Albert and Battersea bridges, are a good choice. One of the most popular vantage points is the walkways of Tower Bridge.
Further upstream you could choose Putney & Hammersmith Bridges and even Kew Bridge close to the finish at Richmond.
Contact & Further Information
Visit The Great River Race website for full details of this frantic race
Getting There
TfL Fare Zones 1 to 4   Transport for London
To plan your River Race watching, use the Transport for London 'Journey Planner' on this page.



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