level English resource on British
THE GREAT RIVER RACE
Each year, one Saturday in September, crowds of people line the Thames
through London, to watch one of the city's most unusual events; the
"Great River Race".
Many big cities have one
annual "marathon" race; London has two - one on dry land, the other on
Technically, the Great
River Race is
not a marathon;
it is slightly too short, and it is a boat race. Starting at Richmond,
in the western suburbs
of London, participants have to row their boats
22 miles, as far as the London docks, in the east.
is a relatively new event
in the London calendar. The first race took place in 1988.
was born in 1987, when members
historic "Company of Watermen and Lightermen"
(a very old professional
16th century royal barge from Hampton
Court to the Tower of London.
they challenged other
to a race. Boats that want to take part must all be of traditional
design, with at least four oars
furthermore, each boat has
to carry at least one passenger.
Over the years, the race has become a
event, with the participation of a wonderful variety of boats. While
most are ordinary rowing boats, there are also Viking longships, and
other unusual boats. In 1995, for instance,
the race was won by a
Chinese dragonboat, in a record time of 2 hours, 6 minutes and 31
years go by, the number of
increasing; from 72 boats in 1988, the number of entries reached 295 in
1997, and will probably be even higher this year. Last year, there were
teams from all over the U.K, and also from America, Canada, and five
to provide a thrilling finish
to the race,
a "handicap" system operates. At the start of the race, the slowest
off first, the fastest ones last.
ways, the Great River Race is a
in the traditional sense of the term - a race for amateurs, and a race
without corporate sponsors.
: the outside parts of a city
in the picture,
men are rowing
; reproduction, copy
oars and paddles
your row a boat
with oars or
- - for instance
: for example - set off: begin, depart.
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The Great River Race
a postcard written by a young man called Joe. Last year, Joe
took part in the “Great River Race”, and in this
postcard he tells his friend about the experience. Complete the
postcard, using information from the article, and putting all verbs in
the right tense.
Yesterday we took ________
in the famous Great River Race. We
_______ from Richmond to ________ ___________, a ___________ of 22
miles, which is _________ _________ than a Marathon. As our
______ was ________ than _____ the others, we were able to set _____
We _______ as fast _______ we ________, and managed to stay in
_________ position as far _____ Tower Bridge. However, we _______
finally overtaken ____ a _________ dragonboat, which eventually ______
The Great River Race is a ________ race, and there ______ ________ ___
people on both ______ of the river. _______ ___ the boats were quite
old, though others were just __________ of old designs. If you _____ in
London next ________, you should try to ______ the race. It
_______ ________ on a _________ ___
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