Rubber duck racing – a high-octane charity event

Norwich Duck Race

The corporate event

Finding new outdoor activities can be tricky, especially when you are feeling a little weary and in need of nothing more strenuous than a stroll. Fortunately, I am blessed in that Norwich always seems to have something interesting going on.


Norwich plays host to many exciting events: the Norfolk and Norwich Festival, the Lord Mayor’s Parade and… charity rubber duck races.


As soon as I saw this event advertised, I knew I had to go. It’s not every day you get to see thousands of rubber ducks racing down the river with hundreds of spectators roaring for their favourite.


This particular event was put together to raise money for the charity Break (find out more here). There were two races in total; the first was a corporate sponsored event, so local companies decorated a duck and entered it in the hope of winning major bragging rights. The second race was a public one, with thousands of small rubber ducks being raffled off to raise money.


Norwich Duck Race

Spectators line the river


When we arrived, the race route was already lined with eager spectators. Finally, the starting whistle went, and the ducks were released.


We waited…. And waited…Finally, the ducks streaked into view.


Norwich Duck Race

A colourful array of ducks


The decoration of some of the ducks was particularly eye-catching. Some ducks were sporting mohicans, or long, blond wigs. Others were riding in boats or were clinging desperately to chef hats. Some ducks had already succumbed to the pressure of the event and had ducked their heads underwater and refused to be righted. Others clung desperately to the banks of the river and had to be fished out with nets.


Now that the ducks were in view, we waited for someone to take the lead. But suddenly the ducks seemed to be having second thoughts about the whole thing, and began to creep back towards the start line – much to the audience’s amusement.


Norwich Duck Race

A helping hand


After failing to persuade the ducks to echo the competitive spirit of the Commonwealth Games, the organisers released the boats and began to coax the ducks up towards the finishing line.


Norwich Duck Race

The finish line


It was a close-run thing, but eventually the duck entered by Ashton KCJ pushed itself to victory.


Now it was the turn of the public race. I managed to find a spot just above the start line for this event, and watched the bag of over 3000 rubber ducks spill over into the river.


Norwich Duck Race

The public race begins


Excitement was at a peak once more, but the ducks refused to budge. The slow-running river and an adverse wind were just too much for them to cope with. However, after a bit of prompting by the organisers, we eventually found a winner.


If you want to see more pictures of the duck race, check out this article.



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