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The Great River Race 2012

Home > London > Family | Free | Kids | Outdoor
300 crews, 21 miles, 1 river
While the recent river pageant along the Thames was undoubtedly a sight to behold, it quite possibly wasn't everyone's cup of something hot with milk and two sugars.

For some it may have been a little on the slow side, a bit too orderly perhaps. If you fall into that category, and yet you're partial to the occasional Thames-based event, then consider making another pilgrimage to the banks of one of the world's finest rivers in September to enjoy an annual event busy with noise, colour and, of course, boats.

Taking place on Saturday 15th September, the Great River Race sees 300 crews from around the world converging on the Thames for a brutal (for them) and entertaining (for us) 21-mile race along the river, from London Docklands to Ham in Surrey.

Now in its 25th year, the Great River Race has become a popular fixture on the London events calendar, with spectators travelling from far and wide to take their place along the river to cheer the rowers as they speed, or in some cases struggle, by.

In fact, it's the wonderful mix of competitors which is a big part of the race's charm; you have the deadly serious oarsmen and oarswomen who train all year and refuse to crack a smile till they cross the finishing line, and then you have the jokers in fancy dress who party their way along the river, and for whom taking part is clearly more important than winning.

The race commences in east London at the Millwall Dock Slipway at 10.40am, making its way west towards Richmond over 21 miles away. Race leaders usually pass Tower Bridge at around 11.10am, Westminster Bridge at 11.25am, Battersea Bridge at 11.45am and Hammersmith Bridge at 12.15pm.

Kew Bridge is usually reached at about 1pm, with the finishing line at Ham House expected to be crossed at around 1.40pm. But don't forget, that's just the leaders there'll be plenty of other rowers coming in for the following several hours, and they'd all love to have your support.

If you're bonkers about boats, the Great River Race is definitely the event for you. Oxford and Cambridge may have the historic boat race, but for many spectators, it's the Great River Race which really delivers.

[Top two images: Great River Race; Bottom image: Trev M]
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Why? It's one of the Thames' most colourful events of the year
When: Saturday 15th September, 2012.
Phone: 020 8398 8141
Where: Between the Millwall Dock Slipway in the Docklands and Ham House in Richmond.
Cost: Free
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