Grand River Marathon Regatta

  • Hosted By: Grand Rapids Rowing Club


...will be at 9:30 AM at the Grand Rapids Rowing Association boathouse. We intend to launch all singles shortly thereafter, and will start them at 10:00 AM. Pairs, Doubles, Fours, Quads, and Eights will be launched in order of size after all singles start.



Crews will dock-launch from the Grand Rapids Boathouse. Full marathon entries will be started before half marathon entries are started.  Single shells will all launch first, and will all be started before other shells are launched and started. (I.E. next, all doubles will be launched and started, before fours are launched.) The start order will be: 1x, 2-, 2x, 4+, 4x, 8+.



The race will be run head-race style, with a single-file rowing start. Shells will launch upstream, turn, and row downstream to begin the race. The start/finish line is located at a point on the north (upstream) end of the dock.



We suggest budgeting 4-5 hours to complete the row, depending on shell size. The fastest eight last year finished the full marathon in just under 4 hours. The last shell finished around 5:20. We have not run the half marathon before but you can probably make a good guess.

Hazards have generally been marked with flags or buoys, but the river is a changing environment and caution should be exercised along the entire route!

While we have alerted local agencies to the race happening on the river on race day, there is no way for us to close the river, and recreational or fishing boats will very likely be present along the course. Racing crews should assume that other watercraft will not know or follow rules of the river and yield to rowing shells. Additionally, hunting of waterfowl has been known to happen at various points along the course. This has never been an issue, but... we suggest wearing bright colored clothing, and make yourself known to people on shore and in other boats!



The course is located on a river with conditions that can change rapidly. Regatta staff will travel the entire length of the course well ahead of time, but will also do a final check the day before the regatta to note any particular hazards and tips for crews. The course will be discussed in detail during the coach & cox meeting on Saturday morning. Be sure to attend!

Overall Course Description:

Crews will launch from the Grand Rapids boathouse, launching upstream and turning to begin the race rowing downstream in order of bow number. Small boats will begin first and shells in the same event will cross the start line at intervals of approximately 10 seconds. Once all shells in an event have started the race, all shells in the next event will launch.

Crews will begin the race headed downstream. The start line is located at the north end of the dock, where crews' times will be recorded. There are two turns on the course, so racing crews will end up rowing in a loop, returning to the finish line at the north end of the dock. Please see "milestones" and the map on the "Venue" page for a description of bridges and other landmarks that you will pass during the race.


  Half Full
GR Boathouse (start) 0.0 mi 0.0 mi
North Park bridge 0.5  
I-96 double bridge 0.6  
First TURN (boat launch) 2.5  
I-96 double bridge 4.4  
North Park bridge 4.5  
GR boathouse (aid station) 5.0  
Wires over river 5.7  
Jupiter boathouse (aid station) 8.7  
Jupiter bridge 8.8  
Half marathon TURN 9.05  
Northland bridge   10.6
Full marathon TURN (Knapp bridge)   15.6
Northland bridge   20.6
Jupiter bridge 9.3 22.4
Jupiter boathouse (aid station) 9.4 22.5
Wires over river 12.4 25.5
GR Boathouse (finish) 13.1 26.2










All races are open as far as age, experience level, etc., and categories are limited to gender. Women's and men's crews must be made up fully of rowers of that respective gender, including the coxswain if they also plan to row. Mixed crews should be exactly half of each gender, except that the coxswain's gender will not be taken into account, even if the coxswain also rows periodically.



Rowers can switch places and positions within the shell as much as they feel is necessary, including with coxswains. Especially for sweep crews, we suggest that rowers switch sides at least once during the race. Crews that plan to switch rowers in and out of the crew during the race should email the regatta director with their intention. (That is, one or more rowers are planned to row for a portion of the race, and then be replaced by a rower who has not previously rowed in the race.) This is acceptable, but crews that switch rowers in and out along the way will be raced as exhibition.

Interested rowers can register for an open seat in this regatta. Please register for the "open seat" event and contact the regatta director as soon as you can after doing so to specify if you have any preference as far as size of shell, scull/sweep, which side if sweep, etc. We will do our best to assign you in a crew according to your preference. Please be prepared to accept your assignment as a whole crew will be depending on you! If we cannot assign you to any crew, we will assign you to row a single, or you can choose to scratch.

Coaches, if you have an open seat please list that seat in your lineup with the last name "OPEN" and whatever first initial you would like and contact the regatta director as soon as you can after doing so to let us know. We will assign a rower to your crew as soon as we can after the final registration deadline on Monday, September 4. If you register with an open seat please be prepared to accept whatever rower we assign to your crew.

Bow numbers will be distributed to all crews, and should be placed in bow clips. At both the start and the finish lines, times will only be recorded for crews with bow numbers in place on the shell. Shells racing the full marathon will be given bow numbers of one color, and those racing the half marathon a different color.



Crews are expected to be dressed as a team, although no penalties will be assessed for crews that are not dressed perfectly the same.

Small shells are started first with larger shells following, so there will certainly be passing. Take care and be respectful as you pass. Do not force a shell being overtaken (nor overtaking) into the shore or hazard. Some areas of the river are more prone to hazards or faster currents. Use good judgment and treat your fellow rowers as you would have them treat you, regardless of what crew or team they represent. We're all in this together.

As with all GRRA regattas, we expect crews to be respectful and polite during races, and trash-talking, hurtful language, or aggressive behavior will not be tolerated. Safety launches will be stationed at few points along the course to monitor progress and participants' safety. Report conduct unbecoming of a rower to the official on the course and appropriate action will be taken. Remember, very few rowers have ever taken part in a race of this length, and there will be a wide range of experience levels, ages, and physical capabilities among the crews. Please keep an eye on your crewmates and other rowers on the course. If someone seems to be having trouble, ask if they need help. If there is a medical issue, call regatta officials (numbers will be given out at the regatta) and help can be sent. Please try to be available after you finish to help pull other crews' shells out of the water. Everyone's on the same team at this regatta!