More than a thousand athletes will be converging on Grand Rapids at the end of April to compete on the Grand River in the Mid American Collegiate Rowing Association (MACRA) Championship Regatta, organizers announced today.
Big Ten teams, Notre Dame and others involved in MACRA will compete in the regatta, which will have multiple heat races starting at 8 a.m., with final races finishing late in the afternoon on April 28.
The races, which will be free for spectators to watch, will start at Riverside Park and finish just north of Ann Street on the north side of Grand Rapids. The event is being hosted by the Grand Rapids Rowing Association and promoted by newly formed group "This is How We Row," dedicated to promoting the sport of rowing and organizing host families and volunteers for the event.
Docks and lanes will start to appear in the river in coming weeks as preparations are made for nearly 1,500 athletes to compete on the 2,000-meter course, said Fred Keller, CEO of Cascade Engineering.
Keller, a former crew member at Cornell University, described the importance of teamwork in these rowing events.
"It's a very different sport than other team sports," he said. "In this sport, you're feeling like you're part of the shell (of the boat). You're trying to make every ounce of your energy work to make sure you have a successful boat."
Grand Rapids Rowing Association president Landon Bartley loves the idea of hosting such a large event on the Grand River.
"This is one of the best rowing venues in the Midwest," Bartley said. "It's wide and fairly shallow and even and sheltered and it's beautiful. It's a great spectator area at Riverside Park, and so it really wasn't too hard to convince the coaches to come back."
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