Stamp End Lock, Lincoln - Boston
31 miles, 1 lock, 4hrs57mins
In which Amy Duck rows an awfully long way...
On Saturday night, I stayed overnight in Cambridge with a friend, in order to be up at 5:30 am and drive with several other crazy rowers up to Lincoln. We were to row the Boston Marathon, the longest inland rowing race in the UK, from Lincoln to Boston along the River Witham.
A sculler at the start
From 9am to 12:30, about 260 boats set off at 1 minute intervals just below Stamp End lock to row the 50km (31 miles) to Boston. Our start time was 12.01pm, when we carried the boat down to the river, laden with water bottles, isotonic sports drinks and malt loaf! Our hands were taped in swathed in all manner of tapes and gloves, in anticipation of the forthcoming blisters. The first 15km were easy, up to Bardney lock, and we soon portaged our eight out and onto the other side. Here we swapped positions, and I was happy to row the last part on my preferred bowside. After a pitstop to rebandage hands which were now beginning to reveal where blisters were forming, we carried on, swapping out in pairs to take on water every half an hour or so. And so the kilometres passed, the km-posts seeming to get further and further apart as the hours wore on. The 30-40 km stretch was the worst, and our bums were beginning to get quite painful from hours sitting in the boat, despite using two seat-pads each! I was lucky, that I was wearing special anti-blister pads, used by transatlantic rowers, so my hands only suffered a little bit where the wrist straps chafed.
The weather was great, warm and sunny, but not too hot, with a gentle tailwind. Perfect. And despite the pain and the aches, I actually rather enjoyed it. I had been told that this stretch of the Witham was really dull, and indeed the banks are high but there were plenty of passing cruisers and narroboats, and lots of nice-looking moorings, the odd sculpture, and even some long-horned cattle! Our cox was great, despite having only stepped in at the last moment, and we all encouraged each other.
The last few km were the worst, as even though I knew it was only a distance comparitive to rowing home after an outing on the Cam, it seemed to go on forever! But finally our cox said that she couldsee the end and we made a push for the finish, to cross the line having taken 4 hours and 57 minutes - sub 5 hours, as we'd hoped, as the only (mostly) women's eight competing.
We were all elated and relieved to have completed this gruelling race, with good spirits all the way through. So, well done Mel, Ev, Anne, Joss, Will, Jo, Louise and Elissa! It was a great day. I'm bloody knackered now though!
The crew. Will, on the far right was an honorary woman for the day. The two at the back were out much appreciated and enthusiastic support team who drove our trailer and mini-van.
All change at Gayton Junction
41 minutes ago