Don't fancy running a marathon? How about rowing one instead?!
Anyone who has ever sat on the firm plastic seat of a Concept-2 rowing machine will know that it's not something to get particularly excited about. Within a few hundred metres, most non-Olympians will start to feel their back seize up, their lungs burn, and their thighs scream.
So when we heard a rumour that three (supposedly sane) people living in Kuwait had decided to embark on a marathon row (yes, we did say marathon – 26.2 miles / 42.2km), we were compelled to find out more.
It turned out that the rumour was indeed true. Scott Fusco, Head of Junior PE teacher at The British School of Kuwait, along with the school's in-house CrossFit coaches, John Embleton and Sarah Miller, had indeed decided to embark on a mind-boggling rowing challenge.
To our reflief we learned that the challenge had a purpose; to raise money and awareness for the trio's chosen cause – Together in Sport Rwanda…a small charity doing BIG things for the country's less fortunate youngsters.
The sport-obsessed trio are no strangers to tough physical challenges, but Fusco admitted that the 'Row4Rwanda' was above anything that any of them had taken on:
"I’ve completed a marathon and an Ironman 70.3 but there is something different about long distance rowing. In running and cycling events the change of scenery helps with motivation levels, but a row requires considerable mental strength as well as physical endurance. Compared with the free movement of running, where you can shake off your arms and legs, yet still make progress – altering your movement on the rower meant stopping altogether."
A strict three month training regimen was followed to get their minds and bodies prepared for the ordeal:
"We all felt it was important to spend as much time on the rower as possible. Having never rowed further than 3k in the past, we needed to understand how the body would react when we pushed past more than 10 times that distance. Ongoing CrossFit training certainly helped prepare the lower back and hamstrings but in terms of overall preparation, it was all about spending time on the rower."
As word began to spread, donations from friends, family and the internet began to flood in, and on the 17th of March, the crowds packed the BSK outdoor gym to watch the Gladiators in action. So inspired were the crowd, that several of them decided to join in the sweat-fest!
"We couldn't believe the level of support that we received during the (four-hour) challenge. The best part was that almost everyone who came to watch decided to get involved in the action as well, and by the time the event was done, as a group we had rowed 168,875metres, ran 16km, cycled 24km, performed 600 squats, 1,000 sit-ups and 1,500 burpees….our friend Geraint even decided to do the full marathon, without any training!"
Understandably, there were more than a few aches and pains for a few days after the challenge:
"There was certainly a bit of tightness in the lower back and hamstrings the next day. Sitting down for 3 hours plus had also taken its toll on the backside! However, these all faded into insignificance when I remembered the reason behind this challenge. I was blown away by the support of all my colleagues, friends and family who happily donated their time and money for a wonderful cause. I know that Together in Sport Rwanda will make a huge difference with the money raised."
But it was well worth it – the three musketeers raised almost £3,000.00 for Together in Sport Rwanda, trebling their target amount! In addition to raising money for the charity, the three will also be travelling to Rwanda in summer to help with the charity's projects, and see how the money they've raised is helping to change lives.
You can also still donate to Scott, John and Sarah's fundraising efforts via their MyDonate Page.