September 4, 2008
Usually, a rubber duck derby is not really newsworthy here at Rubaduck. The so-called rubber duck “races,” staged in rivers, lakes and even fountains, are often held for charity by auctioning off numbers corresponding to ducks in the “race”, but are also held for sweepstakes, publicity or for fun. The frequency of these events makes them commonplace and thus hardly news. However, a world record duck race has recently been held, causing us to temporarily suspend our moratorium on duck derby reporting so that we can bring you this story.
The Great British Duck Race held a rubber duck derby with 250,000 blue rubber ducks, setting a new world record. The race was held on August 31, 2008. Ducks were released into the Thames near Hampton Court Palace in West London. A Guinness Book of World Records adjudicator was on hand to verify the number of ducks used in the race. The 2008 race effort was staged in order to beat the organization’s own 2007 record race of 165,000 ducks.
Each duck in the 2008 record-breaking race cost £2, raising money for 449 charities. The three lead charities were the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), WaterAid (international non-profit organization dedicated to helping people escape the poverty and disease caused by living without safe water), and The Down’s Syndrome Association. One grand prize of £10,000 went to the owner of the first duck to cross the finish line at the Sheriff Boat Club at Albany Reach, a 1km race taking between 2 and 3 hours.
Though rubber duck derbies sometimes get a bad rep for being environmentally irresponsible (dumping loads of plastic into a river or lake, not all ducks being recovered), the Great British Duck Race makes a statement about working “very closely with the Environment Agency” to stage this event. They go on to say that “The Great British Duck Race is dedicated to the environment and we will be making sure that every duck is taken out of the river and doesn't cause a hazard to the wildlife or river environment.”
So, with all the record-breaking, charity-fund-raising and environment-saving going on, why are these ducks so blue? “Official entrants were an exotic blue, instead of the more traditional yellow, after stewards last year faced problems with people throwing their own unofficial plastic birds into the water at the event.” Tsk, tsk, those naughty birds!