Experience a Delightful Saturday on the Charles River at the Run of the Charles Canoe and Kayak Race, held annually in Boston during the month of April. (Please refer to our Boston Event Calendar for April for the exact date and time.)
Whether you choose to spectate or participate as one of the 1,500 paddlers, you will be immersed in the thrill of New England’s largest flat-bottomed boat race.
While the Run of the Charles promises an enjoyable day outdoors on the water, it also serves as a testament to the remarkable transformation the Charles River has undergone in recent decades. Once polluted and uninviting, it has been revitalized into a stunning recreational area for the city, thanks to the dedicated efforts of the Charles River Watershed Association (CRWA), numerous volunteers, and advocacy groups.
Run of the Charles Race Course
The races commence at various locations in Dedham, Newton, and Brighton, depending on their respective distances, with all races concluding near the Artesani Playground in Brighton.
Both canoe and kayak races offer participants four distance options: 6, 9, 19, and 24 miles.
For those considering participation, there are eight entry categories available based on age, gender, and skill level. All skill levels, from beginners to experts, are warmly welcomed.
As the event takes place in April, all paddlers are required to wear life jackets, as mandated by Massachusetts law. This requirement is in place until May 15, when water temperatures begin to rise.
Ideal Viewing Spot for the Run of the Charles
For the best vantage point, head towards the finish line at Artesani/Herter Park on Soldiers Field Road in Brighton, which is conveniently located about a quarter-mile from Harvard Stadium in Allston. This is also where the lively Finish Line Festival takes place, featuring live music, raffles, and vendors.
Insider’s Tip for Boston Visitors
April weather in Boston can be highly unpredictable, with rapid changes being quite common. If you plan to attend the race, it’s advisable to bring rain gear in case the forecast appears uncertain. Additionally, dressing in layers is always a wise choice.
Looking for Accommodations Nearby? Hotels near the Run of the Charles
Consider these options for convenient stays near the Run of the Charles:
- Residence Inn Marriott Watertown: An affordable suites hotel located close to Artesani Park. It offers amenities such as an indoor pool, complimentary buffet breakfast, and a free area shuttle service.
- Doubletree Suites by Hilton at Cambridge: Enjoy proximity to Artesani Park, as well as Cambridge and Boston.
- Four Points by Sheraton Newton: Situated less than a mile from Artesani Park on the Mass Pike, this hotel provides a convenient location.
- Sheraton Needham: A lovely upscale hotel near I-95, boasting an indoor swimming pool and an onsite restaurant.
The Day Before the Run of the Charles: Earth Day Clean-Up!
In addition to their sponsorship of the Run of the Charles, the CRWA organizes the Earth Day Charles River Cleanup, which takes place on the Saturday morning prior to the race, coinciding with Earth Day (please consult our April Events Calendar for confirmed date and time).
During this event, more than 3,000 volunteers gather on the banks of the Charles River (visible along the Esplanade if you’re in Boston) to collectively remove tons of trash. The Charles River cleanup initiative has gained national recognition due to the significant contribution of volunteers.
When you look at the Charles River today, it’s hard to imagine that it was once depicted as “Dirty Water” in The Standells’ 1966 hit song about Boston. However, by replacing “dirty” with “sparkling” in the refrain, the lyrics still hold true:
We express our heartfelt gratitude to the CRWA and all the dedicated volunteers involved!