Fuller’s Head of the River Fours returns for 65th year

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The Fuller’s Head of the River Fours is returning for its 65th year, with more than 490 boats and 2,000 athletes preparing to row down the Thames on Saturday 23 November, vying for a spot on the podium.

Fuller’s has sponsored the race since 1979, which takes place on the Tideway of the River Thames in London on The Championship Course – the four-and-a-quarter-mile stretch between Mortlake and Putney – with athletes competing in quads, coxed and coxless fours. 

Among this year’s athletes is Fuller’s employee Mike Trevena. Mike started Fuller’s Graduate Development Programme in 2017, working in different areas of the business before finding his calling in marketing.

Today, Mike is the Marketing and PR Manager of The Stable, a craft cider and gourmet pizza restaurant business owned by Fuller’s, which has 16 sites in England and Wales. He recently made the list of ’30 under 30’ finalists for the 2020 Restaurant Marketer & Innovator awards.

We asked Mike all about rowing and his preparations for Fuller’s Head of the River Fours.

Adam Sykes

What sparked your passion for rowing?

“After playing rugby for 10 years, I decided to follow my grandfather’s footsteps and gave rowing a try at my local club, Maidenhead Rowing Club, at the age of 15. I fell in love with the sport instantly. I loved it so much I trained six days a week throughout my GCSE’s and A-Level’s, rowing for Maidenhead at the National Championships, Fuller’s Fours Head, Henley Royal Regatta and GB final trials,” Mike explained.

“My love for the sport then carried on throughout my time at Newcastle University where I represented Newcastle University Boat Club, and even into my working life – my current club is Thames Rowing Club in Putney.

“The best bit about rowing is having a sport that you and your crew mates are all striving towards one unified goal no matter what. There’s a comradery that I’ve never felt elsewhere – like when we were rowing at 6am in a blizzard – the ‘Beast from the East’. There was ice on the boat and we couldn’t feel our toes, but we did it to get one step closer to getting quicker in the boat.”

Rowing athlete Mike Trevena
Rower Mike Trevena.

What’s it like rowing in The Head of the River Fours?

“The first year I entered Fuller’s Fours Head was in 2010 for Maidenhead Rowing Club. I’ve entered most years since, and last year [2018] my crew came seventh in our category, behind crews from Cambridge University, Oxford University and Leander [GB representatives],” Mike explained.

“This year I’m entering championship quads and we’re setting off eighth out of 490 crews. Fours Head is one of the biggest races in the UK and is usually the first race where clubs try out combinations for races later in the year, such as the Henley Royal Regatta.”

The Head of the River Fours rowing race

What’s your training regime like?

“Currently my training programme is 10 sessions a week, which includes two weights sessions, two rowing machine session, four water sessions, and usually a run and a bike ride. Fortunately, our coaches understand that we all work full time, so they’re flexible with how we fit our training around work.

“I’m very lucky to be able to row on the tideway from Putney up towards Chiswick, the same course as the boat race between Oxford and Cambridge. The only thing is when I’m rowing early in the morning before work I row past the Fuller’s brewery – there’s something quite frustrating about not being able to just jump out and park my boat up at work!” 

What are you most looking forward to on race day? 

“This might come across badly, but I’m looking forward to the end of the race. There are months and months of build up to any race, hours and hours of training, going through selection, early mornings, eating the right stuff, looking after your health and so on, so when it’s finally race day the best thing is getting it done and having the feeling that you’ve done everything you can do to perform. The beer at the bar afterwards is also a close second!”

Do you have a stand-out rowing moment?

“During my first year working at Fuller’s my crew and I won The Britannia Challenge Cup at Henley Royal Regatta in July 2018. I have a lasting memory of the Fuller’s marketing team sending a photo of me rowing past the Fuller’s Frontier bar halfway down the course.”

The Head of the River Fours rowing race

Watch Fuller's Head of the River Fours

The Fuller’s Head of the River Fours race will take place on Saturday, 23rd November 2019, starting at 12:45pm.

The annual event is free to watch, with plenty of good viewing points by the Thames. Stalls will sell refreshments outside the local Tideway clubs along Putney Embankment and near Hammersmith Bridge.

More details about the history of the race and a full start order visit The Head of the River Fours website.

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