The challenge consisted of teams of eight individual rowers submitting their scores on five different workouts. The workouts ranged from 6,000m in week one, to a 30-minute test in week three, finishing with a 2000m race in week five. Teams had to compete with eight rowers, but were not required to compete in every round and were able to make changes in the athletes from week to week. Those teams that participated in every round were ranked on a leaderboard. The winners were impressive.

On the men’s side, the Garageathlete men – team A, put up the biggest scores. The team was comprised of some notable names, including New Zealand Olympic Champion Hamish Bond. The team was put together via an international online training group, Garageathlete. They had three men’s eights and one women’s eight, says team leader Justin Farina. Farina, a school teacher from Ontario, Canada, runs a website for indoor rowing training.

“I contacted Ian Seymour, a friend of mine and currently rowing for New Zealand, to see if he would be able to join us for the Spring Series,” says Farina. “He agreed, but he also asked me if he could bring in some of his rowing ‘friends’. I didn’t realise he meant Olympic Champion Hamish Bond, along with a handful of other outstanding rowers!”

Together, the Garageathlete group posted some outstanding performances, including Bond’s 5:43.9 for 2000m and Jason Marshall’s 1:15.7 for 500m.

“The Spring Series was another great opportunity provided by Concept2 to compete virtually against some of the world’s best,” Farina says. “Our online members are made up of regular people from around the world who typically erg at home for exercise. Competitions, like this one, provide a bit of focus and incentive to push hard in training, so we all look forward to these sorts of events throughout the year.”

The women’s leaderboard was topped by a group called the Quaranqeens, a group of athletes from New Zealand, the United States and Great Britain. The team leader and programme leader at the West End Rowing Club in New Zealand, Nick Dawe says the challenge came at the right time for these rowers. They were engulfed in uncertainty at a time when they would normally be about to start their racing season.

“Almost instantly all racing opportunities were wiped out for everyone,” says Dawe. “I discovered the Spring Series VIII through a friend right as New Zealand was shutting down. After handing out the club’s ergs to athletes to train alone at home I thought weekly competition for athletes would be fantastic for keeping up with training and minds off lockdown measures as much as possible.

“I reached out to the rowers I’d been helping here in NZ as well as back in the USA who had erg access and we had six athletes able to join up. They recruited a couple teammates and we had ourselves a virtual global club eight!”

The series was also full of meaning for the athletes.

“I don't think I would have had it in me to start testing in my driveway on my own. It would have just been a long summer of steady state,” says team member Sophie Madjarova. “But just knowing that there were other women out there doing the same thing as me certainly gave me some mojo back. I can't express how thankful I am for that sense of community.”

The challenge attracted top names from rowing past and present, including World Champion in the men’s single sculls, Ollie Zeidler of Germany, Olympic Champion from New Zealand Eric Murray and Slovenia’s Olympic Champion Iztok Cop.

Concept2 plans to offer more of these types of challenges to get through the months ahead.

For full results from the Series, click here.