The race passes through the rural Fens of Norfolk and Cambridgeshire.
The course is approximately 21.5km. Boats launch at West Norfolk Rowing Club, which is about 400m from the start. The finish is 100m before Queen Adelaide bridge on the road between Ely and Prickwillow.
It is then a gentle warm-down paddle of 1.5km to the landing stage at Isle of Ely Rowing Club for some welcome refreshments.
The course is upstream, but at the time of year the race is held there is very little current. The river is wide, with plenty of room for overtaking and only gentle bends. It is crossed by just 3 bridges which affect navigation, and which have safety marshals in attendance.
Littleport bridge signals 5km to go. This part of the course is a famous piece of wide, straight, river, previously featured in Rowing and Regatta magazine as one of the 10 best places to row in the world.