Ben Sykes
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80 Blistering Miles

Ben Sykes
Posted by
15 Nov 2012

As the sun was rising over the river Thames at 6am on Saturday 15th September, 37 boats filled with 138 weary bodies paddled east into the mist ahead of an epic 80 mile journey over two spectacular late summer days. The intrepid souls were made up of staff, parents and current and former students - all members of Kingston Grammar School’s Sheriff Rowing Club.  They were on their way to raising an incredible £30,000 for Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research.

By mid-morning the mist had lifted and the sun was shining down on some beautiful stretches of river. Along the entire length there were hoards of eager helpers charming the lock-keepers and lifting the spirits of the tired rowers. At lunch a team of 12 doughty caterers produced the first 500 rolls of and 30 gallons of squash of the weekend.  But there was no dawdling: a quick half-hour break and on the rowers went again - destination Henley Rowing Club. The first crews arrived at 5:00pm and for the next three and a half hours they kept coming.  The final boat rowed in at almost 9pm in total darkness, ready, if not willing, to go again just a few short hours later.

At 5am on Sunday morning the still-exhausted rowers clambered out of their beds and wearily began to row again, knowing that the end of the day brought with it the end of their epic journey.  The rowers set off at a brisk pace in spite of their aching limbs. By the afternoon, however, the pace began to slow not due to fatigue, surprisingly, but because every man and his dog took to the water on their pleasure cruisers.  Not to be defeated though, the hardly souls weaved in and out of swimmers, boats and kayaks, and the first boat caught their first tantalising glimpse of the finishing line just before 6pm. Light already fading.  Over the next 3 hours the boats rowed in, triumphant and exhausted and welcomed back with a much needed drink and probably the most well deserved bacon sandwich of their lives.  They'd made it, 80 blistering miles!

The sponsored row is, without doubt, a logistical nightmare and it's only thanks to the incredible support of a fantastic team that it can take place.  Our sincere and grateful thanks go to all those involved in hosting such a special event that raised an incredible amount to help us beat blood cancers.