Last week, we were incredibly proud to watch our very own Thomas legend Naomi Riches complete the epic Great Thames Row. Here’s what Naomi had to say a week after completing the challenge.
You know that feeling when you wake up in the morning unsure if what you did was a dream or reality? Well, the last few mornings have been like that for me… but it was a reality, I did row the entire length of the Navigable Thames and I did complete it in 47 hours 59 minutes and 54 seconds.
Before I say anything else I need to say thank you to the TGTR2016 team, this challenge would not have happened without all their expertise, passion and enthusiasm from beginning to end. I also need to thank all the individuals and companies who donated, taking our total to a staggering £30,560 - that total is still going up which is just amazing! I'd like to make a special mention to Thomas International who went above and beyond with their support; a 24 hour ERGOthon, a sweepsake on the finish time, t-shirts, popping up at bridges and locks along the way as well as fundraising and donating £10,000 when the total count was done!
Whilst I may have crossed the finish line, the fundraising for IN-vison is still going. We are still selling the miles and still encouraging people to do their own 165 challenges, so if you want to get involved please visit www.thegreatthamesrow.org.
It is going to take Guinness World Records a few months to verify my record but hopefully with the mountain of evidence we have gathered, it will be easy for them; there is no doubt however that I completed it, that I am the first women EVER to have rowed 165 miles from Lechlade to Gravesend in a single scull and in one hit.
One thing I will never forget about this experience is the support I had at every lock, on many of the bridges, from other river users on their boats or just from people standing on the banks. It was phenomenal and every shout was a little energy boost which I can tell you was much needed - especially in the last few hours.
Those last few hours will always stick in my mind as the toughest, both mentally and physically. I was past The Thames Barrier with no land marks to pass, nothing to show me how far I had come and to add to the struggle, I was heading into the incoming tide so whenever I stopped to stretch, eat or drink I would float back towards London. The QE2 Bridge nearly drove me to insanity! I was looking over my shoulder now and again and it didn’t get any bigger for what seemed like hours. When I finally passed underneath though I had just 5.5miles to go, that is just over 2 laps of Dorney Rowing Lake - now that was achievable!
A couple of days before I started The Great Thames Row at Lechlade, Jacqui Jones, a great friend and fellow rower asked me to write down the reason I was doing this bonkers challenge. First and foremost, it was to raise money for IN-vision and to raise awareness of Infantile Nystagmus and secondly, it was set a new Guinness World Record. Underneath all that though, it was much more personal. It was to lay to rest some of my own ghosts and to prove to myself that I could achieve, despite the various different ways people tried to tell me that I couldn’t. When she could see me struggling, Jacqui just asked, “Naomi, why are you doing this?” My response? “Because I can!”