Take Your Places for the Great River Race
Watch longboats, canoes and dragonboats sail up the Thames
The Great River Race takes over the Thames on Saturday, September 5 - and this year it's being run in reverse.
Tidal patterns mean that for the first time since this spectacular event was launched in 1988, the 22 mile race will run upstream, from its launch at the Millwall Slipway opposite the Docklands Centre to its grand finish at Ham in Richmond - normally its starting point.
From modest beginnings 21 years ago, the race has grown to become the biggest event of its kind in Europe, featuring a wide range of around 300 paddle and rowing boats, manned by 2,000 competitors from all over Europe and America, who will compete for 35 different trophies.
To give everyone an equal chance, the entrants are handicapped, with the slowest boats setting off first so they all reach the spectacular finish around the same time.
The competitors, some in fancy dress, range from charity fundraisers to serious sportsmen and women. The boats are a colourful mix of traditional
vessels including Chinese dragon boats, Viking Longships, and Hawaiian canoes.
The race, often described as London's other marathon, begins at 11am and will reach West London an hour later. Here are the crucial times for those who want to cheer them on.
12.05pm: Battersea Bridge, approaching the halfway mark.
12.15pm: Wandsworth Bridge
12.25pm: Putney Bridge
12.40pm Hammersmith Bridge
1.10pm Chiswick Bridge - around one hour left to go
1.25pm Kew Bridge
2pm Richmond Bridge
2.10pm Riverside below Ham House Richmond - the finish.
There will be riverbank celebrations by the finish line from midday until late, with live music, a video wall showing the race's progress, fun for kids and food stalls. In the evening, there will be a twilight flotilla and The Great River Race Evening Party.
September 1, 2009