Part of the race build-up was introducing the crews, women first, then men. The size of the participants, was impressive. The women were obviously the smaller of the two, but most of them were five foot nine or above and eleven stone plus of well-honed muscle. Only one was five foot seven, and she was sturdily muscled. This means that the smallest female was my height; but the male crew averaged six foot four and fourteen stone ten pounds, a very powerfully built bunch! It is my one frustration with rowing, my size! I love the sport, but at five foot seven I would never have a chance against the big men, so I contented myself with being a spectator.
The whole infrastructure was established on the Great Ouse and its banks. Portable club houses were established and a course was mapped out. This was not easy, as the fenland river has reedy banks at places, so the course had to ensure that neither boat became trapped in reedy patches. Starting positions had to be calculated exactly. We know those on the Thames from well over a hundred years experience, but the Ouse, though very straight, does have a slight bend on the course.
The race is accompanied by a flotilla of boats, of which the main one was the umpire's launch, which contains the person who is tasked with ensuring that boats do not clash oars. In addition, there are four launches provided for safety, just in case a boat sinks, as has happened on occasion. All these boats, generally moored on the Thames, had to be transported to the Ouse and kept safe and secure. An activist on one occasion disrupted the boat race, motivated by the usual delusion that somehow he was furthering his cause. This year there was no interruption or disruption.
Large pontoons had to be brought as starting blocks, from which the boats are held ready for the start, which only happens when the boats are properly positioned.
Finally feeding facilities had to be provided for the hungry crews.