24 hour row

A few years back I was training to get into an Atlantic rowing squad. Long story short, I didn’t end up doing this and instead went to Finland to train as a wilderness guide.

I did the 24 hour row before meeting Sam and Levin, to show i was serious about joining the team.

The gym was a 24 hour gym, so this wasn’t a problem, but, not surprisingly they weren’t too impressed with my suggestion of sleeping in their staff room during the night (legal reasons or some mumbo jumbo). So I booked a b n b only a 3 minute cycle ride away down the road.

I had done a few 2 hour rows in my training thus far, which is fairly painful in itself. The thought of doing 6×2 hour rows over a 24 hour period was daunting. I can’t remember the exact times, but after checking in at the B n B down the road, I cycled over to the gym to start on the afternoon of Saturday the 29th March. I didn’t know what to expect, I tried to keep the strokes and the motion as smooth as possible, saving energy for later if needed, I didn’t want to burn out. But what I was worried about most was, you guessed it, getting a painfully sore butt!

The first two hours were’nt too bad, butt was hurting, but nothing to call home about. I went back to the BnB, ate some food and slept for around an hour and a half. Waking up to continue the next shift. 1 down, 5 to go. Waking up was ok, ‘I’ve got this’ I thought to myself. After another quick snack and something to drink I cycled back over to the gym. Got back on the same rowing machine and got to it. This process was repeated throughout the night. The deeper into the night I got, the harder it was to wake, the more painful it was to row, and in the early hours, it was the toughest. My eyes felt heavy as I rowed, my ass was screeching at me. It felt strangely like a lucid dream, and I almost felt as if I was just observing myself rowing from 3rd person. But I cracked on. Who uses the gym at 2am-4am in the morning? Well a whole range of people it seems. I was amazed how many gym goers trickled in and out throughout the night.

The rising sun was my saving grace, picking me by the scruff of the neck and giving me a good psychological slap round the face. I gawped from the relative comfort of the rowing machine as the sky ebbed its way from black to azure to tangerine. People who were in the gym the previous evening were back to the gym for a morning session. I checked out of the B n B and spent the remaining breaks in a nearby park, sat on the grass eating avocados and bananas whilst watching a boisterous sunday league football game, kids playing frisbee and some mexicans chatting on the phone. I felt good now and only had a couple more stints on the rower.

The pace continued to be slow, but I expected that, and the bum was sore, I expected that too. So I continued what I had been doing for the last 18 hours or so, pushing on and getting the thing done. By now, and for much of the time rowing, I would alter the position and rowing technique to try and take the soreness of the butt away. The prospect of now rowing an ocean, rowing 2 hours then resting 2 hours, 24 hours a day for 40 – 120 days seemed much more of a challenge rather than a blissful mirage of daydream montages.

When the 24 hours were complete, I simply stopped rowing and sat there in silence for a bit, smiling to myself as sweaty grunting gym bodies moved around me. I had made it. Although different to the sea, I now had a better idea of rowing an ocean. But i didn’t dwell on this thought for too long, but I knew I could do it.