August 1, 1715

On August 1, 1715, the First Doggett’s Coat and Badge race was held on the Thames River in London, England. This is the longest continuously run rowing race in the world. The first race was run by the waterman (think river-taxis) and went from London Bridge to the Chelsea bridge. Each river-boat was allowed only one rower and the boats could not call foul if they were slowed down by dead bodies in the water (animal or otherwise). The race was almost put off by the Great Stink of 1858 (when the Thames was so polluted by human waste and other poisonous factory run-offs) that just touching the water could give a person cholera. But a race was a race, and a purse was a purse, so the Doggett’s Coat and Badge was held. Even though it was said that the pollution was so thick that the rowers might have made better time just picking up the boats and running the distance.

About Joel Byers

Born in North Georgia and educated at some very fine public institutions. Real education started after graduating from college and then getting married and raising two boys. Has the ability to see the funny and absurd in most things and will always remark on it, even if it means getting the stink-eye from his victims.
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