Boat race is nothing more than a toff fest for stuckup rich folk. Always reminds me of The Young Ones Uni Challenge ep....
'We are going to beat the oinks, hoorah hoorah hoorah.
Racing a car isn't an illegal act as London has been used for demonstrations of cars (2004 F1 Street parade) as well as other events. The important thing to remember that if an area has been marked out for one sporting event (e.g. marathon) trying to do something else there is plain stupid and even dangerous. That section of the Thames was marked out for a sporting event. The swimmer was intentionally trying to disrupt a sporting even in the same way a streaker will run onto a cricket pitch or fans might invade a football pitch. What the sporting even was is almost irrelevant but the thing people repeatedly play on is that this is a toffs event ... when it isn't. It is linked with elitist colleges and you can argue about whether the elitism is down to meritocracy or money but the athletes in the boats are just that ... athletes ... who have worked hard to get to the level they are at.
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