Big Ben Challenge and Putney Foreshore Festival

The Big Ben Challenge, supported by Tideway, is allowing for a rare chance to stand up paddle the River Thames in Central London.

On Sat 23rd Sept, Active360, the London-based Stand up Paddleboarding (SUP) school is organising a 20km race from Putney to Big Ben and back. This race was first run in 2016 when some of the UK’s fastest racers took part. The response was positive and participants loved being able to race through central London past some iconic landmarks. This year the race will have a 14’ class and also a 12’ 6” inflatable board class.

This year as well as the 20km race there will be a 10km+10km ‘Challenge’. Challenge participants will not be racing, although they may choose to record their time to set a personal best and they will be expected to cover the 10km down to Big Ben at a moderately fast pace.  Unlike the 20km racers they will, on reaching Big Ben turn and paddle back at a more leisurely pace taking in the sights. When they reach Lacks Dock, a river beach just before Vauxhall Bridge, they can take a short break before they paddle the next 8km back to Putney.

Men and women racers will be treated equally with the same prize money for both in the main race and in the Challenge everyone who completes the full 20km will be entered in a prize draw with some great prizes.

Paul Hyman Active360’s Founder says, “We are very pleased to be running this unique race again and delighted to be able to extend the event to people who are confident paddlers but not necessarily racers. Our partnership with Tideway has made this possible and we are sure this event can continue to grow and attract more SUP paddlers from around the World just like the Paris Crossing which now attracts hundreds of stand up paddlers to the Seine every December. The event has a theme of protecting the Thames from pollution including the growing threat of plastic pollution which makes it even more special.”

On the same day at the Challenge at Putney Tideway the company behind Thames Tideway Tunnel is creating the ‘Foreshore Festival’ to celebrate the fabulous and unique environment of the Tidal Thames, through Recreation, environmental engagement and safety.

The Tideway tunnel’s impact will not only be a huge benefit to the river life, but the life of the river users too.  Anyone who enjoys the river can have confidence that the future of the river is being looked after. Tideway is working to leave its legacy by supporting the growth of this natural asset for London:

This event will bring together a number of Tideway’s partners:

  • Active360 – Standup Paddle boarding group, running a Mass Paddle, SUP taster sessions and the Big Ben race, an international SUP race.
  • Thames21 – environmental charity doing great work to clean the banks of the river. Join in and see the difference.
  • Tideway, Tideway West & our JV partner BMB – hear from our team about the works in Putney and across London.
  • Watertrek – an association committed to the protection of aquatic eco systems, environmental awareness and participative science through stand up Paddleboarding
  • PLA – The Port of London, custodians of the river and owner of the Thames Vision
  • RNLI – Critical guardians of the river keeping the river users safe.
  • LYR and British Rowing – outreach and the home of British Rowing.
  • Local Business – Showing off a bit of Putney life
  • Local Residents – Bringing the foreshore to life.

Andrew Triggs Hodge – four times World Champion and three times Olympics Champions Rower and now Tideway’s legacy Programme Manager says, “I’m really excited to be running the Foreshore Festival. We have a great river running through the middle of a great capital and the festival celebrates this by helping reconnect Londoners with this great river. Stand Up Paddleboarding is a great sport to have on the river, and we’re proud to work with this thriving London community competing in the big Ben Race through the centre of town. It’ll be a great opportunity to bring this sport to new communities, and give SUP a new, iconic event.

“Around SUP there’ll be lots of family fun with environmental clean ups with Thames21, beach combing with MOLA and plenty of refreshments. The Tideway team will also be on hand to give an update on their work to help stop sewage pollution in the river.”

The day’s activities will start at Kew Bridge with a mass SUP paddle to Putney, clearing up plastic trash from the river on the way. Plastic bottles collected will be used later for an art installation. In the afternoon films about plastic pollution will be shown in Westminster School Boathouse as part of the Plastic Ocean Festival and Watertrek will talk about their work to reduce plastic pollution and protect marine environments.

Big Ben Challenge

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