Sweat, tears, skill, world-champions, underdogs, favourites, tactics, power, finesse, balance, determination, mental strength, and blades.
The annual boat race between Oxford and Cambridge has all of this, but it also has one of the oddest crowds you will ever see at a sporting event.
There has always been a split between jocks and geeks. The brainy glasses-wearing, dungeons & dragon playing, computer loving chaps with BO and no dress sense don't like sport. The muscle-headed, hard-drinking, womanising, boorish, gym-freaks don't have a lot between the ears.
And unless movies and television have lied to me, this has always been the case.
Always will be.
With one exception.
Once a year - at the traditional start of London's summer social season - as green shoots and daffodils raise their heads from their winter slumber the two geekiest institutions in the UK clash.
Boffins brush off their beer goggles, and sportsmen and women admit to having knowledge of Kant, although not necessarily though direct experience of him.
250,000 of them, some in blazers some in shorts and flip-flops.
Properly posh people sip Pimms next to pissed Aussies, Kiwis, and Saffas (the race does start in Putney after all) drinking cans of carling from inflatable bins full of ice (bin comes free with 10 cans, as does a pair of flip-flops).
They then swap drinks.
The crowd is polite and drunk at the same time, thousands crush forward, all the while apologising in upper-class accents as they knock into each other.
There are more degrees along that stretch of river than in 100 boiling kettles, but not one of the thousands of people around me has brought a radio so they listen for the result after the boats pull round the corner - 500 yards into the four-mile race.
But it doesn't really matter.
There were three-and-a-half people that I could see who seemed to care about the result, because it's not about that. It's about the sun on the river, it's about the friends you haven't seen for years, and the ones you haven't met yet.
It's the true democracy of sport. Anyone can come, drink, watch and join in. Almost everyone in the UK, and probably a large number of the 100 million people worldwide that watch this race, have a reason to support Oxford or Cambridge. An allegiance that generally lasts for life.
This is an event older than any football competition, considerably older than the Ashes, and was the subject of one of the world's first films in 1895.
But it is also modern, six nationalities, men and women competing in carbon-fibre boats, computer designed blades and with telemetry analysed.
There is also something gloriously post modern about a competition on which nothing rests except pride, but that dominates the lives of 30 world-class athletes and coaches for over a year and is seen worldwide my millions.
And despite all this it remains resolutely English.
In what other country would the competitors - as your correspondent can confirm after an ad-hoc trip through the Cambridge dressing room to the toilets this year - would the contestants still turn up in wellies to keep their feet dry before getting soaked?