How to indoor row one million metres in three days
Picture this: Ten guys, one indoor rowing machine, 62 hours, one million metres covered.
This is what went on recently at the University of Western Ontario, Canada when ten members of the men’s rowing team successfully went after the million-metre record on the indoor rowing machine.
For nearly three days, Elliot Grenier, Nikko Northrup, Jonathan Cinquina, Jeremy Langelaan, Ben Griffiths, Dan Sullivan, Luke Brodie-Brown, Connor Newell, Dustyn Veenstra and Benett Layton adhered to a strict schedule of erging, eating and, for many, sleeping with the endless whirring of their lone indoor rower a constant reminder of their goal.
Nothing was left to chance; getting the most out of each rower without hitting the wall was executed to plan.
Forming into five pairs, each duo took it in two hour shifts where the two rowers switched back and forth on the ergo. After an eight-hour rest, the same two would be back at it for another two hours split between them.
“When we swapped on the erg, one or two people (not rowing) would undo the straps,” says Grenier, “the rower would switch off and tighten and adjust the drag factor if needed.”
“People who lived close to the erg room slept at home,” Grenier says, “but people who were a little further slept in a room just off the erg room. We probably slept less than twelve hours total over the three nights.”
“We averaged the first 900 kilometres at 1:53.3 [average pace per 500 metres],” says Gainer. “Then we managed to row the last 100 kilometres below 1:45.0, which brought us to a 1:52.4 average.”
The final time of 62 hours, 27 minutes and 7 seconds broke the small team World Record for the men’s 19-and-under age group.
“We sprinted the last 70 kilometres or so,” says Grenier, who noted the support from other team members for the ten aspiring record setters. “During the entire event we had teammates coming in to support us.”
Fuelling the attempt was another piece of logistics taken into account and recovery snacks were ready to go during and after each gruelling shift. “Our diet consisted of mostly simple sugars while rowing, so Gatorade, jujubes [candy], and arrowroot cookies,” says Grenier. “On longer breaks we tried to have protein, vegetables and lots of carbs.”
“I think this achievement shows that our team is in good hands for many years as these were mostly first and second year guys,” says Dan Bechard, head coach of Western Men’s Rowing. “It shows the capacity to think big and follow through, and plan for the future.”
“It also shows a connection to the community through helping a charitable organisation,” he says, pointing to their partner charity, the Canadian Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. “Our team is not immune to the importance of mental health and we are proud that the guys could do their part.”
While there aren’t immediate plans to break any more world records in the near future, Bechard isn’t ruling anything out.
“We try to inspire all of our team members to think outside the box regarding what they believe they can achieve in the short time they are a student-athlete,” he says. “We advocate teamwork, commitment and excellence throughout our team; we encourage each group to dream up something big and make it theirs.”