This is the first internationally sanctioned virtual rowing event of its kind and it attracted more than 3800 competitors all challenged to complete 1000 metres as fast as possible.

 World Rowing received inspirational stories from around the world as the results flowed in between 11 and 13 March 2016. In Tanzania, a country that does not yet have a national rowing federation, an avid indoor rower Mitchell Wimbush took his Concept2 rowing machine to the nearest town and taught people how to row. He successfully engaged 27 individuals who had never sat on a rowing machine to do the 1000m sprint.

When sending the results to Concept2 Wimbush wrote about gathering the participants details to enter them in the Sprints; “Many people only knew the year they were born, some knew the month. The best Tanzanian time was 3:49.0 which I thought was pretty good for a first time and not wearing workout clothes.”

Other initiatives took place in Guatemala, France and South Africa. The largest single event was held in Guatemala with 118 participants. France staged a total of 24 events up and down the country that saw more than 900 athletes complete the sprints. The only country with more total competitors was the United States with 1228. Several initiatives in schools and universities in South Africa helped it to rank fourth in total participation with 333 athletes. The University of Cape Town posted a video of their rowers completing the challenge.

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Participants included novices, elites, juniors, masters and para-rowers. The youngest competitor was only six years old and hailed from Norway, while the oldest competitor was 87. Participants were encouraged to post their photos using #indoorsprints.

“We are very pleased with the level of participation in this first edition of the World Rowing Indoor Sprints,” said FISA President Jean-Christophe Rolland. “Indoor rowing is a great way to engage people around the world and to encourage them to participate in the sport of rowing. The World Rowing Indoor Sprints, in collaboration with Concept2, is one of a series of steps we are making to facilitate and encourage indoor rowing worldwide.”  

“It’s been really exciting seeing the results come in from all across the world, and as a first time event the Indoor Sprints has been a great success. We look forward to working with World Rowing next year to make the event even bigger and better,” said Judy Geer, one of Concept2’s founders. 

The second edition of the World Rowing Indoor Sprints will take place 10-12 March 2017. In the meantime, indoor rowers are encouraged to participate in the World Erg Challenge, details here, and the qualification process for the 2017 World Games, details here.

Next year’s World Rowing Indoor Sprints will go from 10-12 March 2017. 

Full results: http://log.concept2.com/challenges/indoor-sprints/2016/male/hwt/overall