- “This is a story about why the word ‘YES’ could be really dangerous, a couple of months ago, Sally Hopewell and Naomi Riches asked me if I would join in doing a full Marathon distance, Naomi full distance, Sally was doing half distance and I said ‘YES!’ that was a tough one, my body was shut down for a full day. Straight after that, the same two nutters asked me to join and do 100k and I said ‘YES’ my second abuse of that word, to say 100k was the most painful thing I have ever done would be an understatement.” – Kingsley Ijomah
With approaching 6 straight months of indoor lockdown training (mostly on the rowing machine), Kingsley Ijomah and Naomi Riches of the Marlow RC adaptive/para squad decided that a mere marathon (or half) was not nearly enough erging in one day. And so they decided to more than double it to the Century Challenge – 100,000 metres in one sitting (joined by Sally Hopewell also doubling her, and the UK WPR1’s long-distance mark for the full marathon).
· Kingsley Ijomah (PR1), who has qualified to row in Tokyo next year for Nigeria completed the Concept2 Century (100,000m) in 10:27:10.2. His is now ranked No1 in the world and is the only PR1 Male to have completed this distance since Concept2 online records began in 2002.
· Naomi Riches MBE (PR3-VI) completed the Concept2 100,000m in 7:50:55.8 making her the only PR3 female rower to have ever tackled this distance; and this season she ranks 5th female in the world in non adaptive categories.
· Dr Sally Hopewell (WPR1) previously set the mark for the Concept 2 Half-Marathon earlier, took on and completed the Concept2 Marathon (42,195m) in a time of 6:40:46.8. This makes Sally the only PR1 Woman in the world to complete this challenge this season, the only UK pararower to ever complete the challenge, and the 3rd fastest PR1 woman to have completed this distance since Concept2 online records began in 2002.
The hearty and hale pararowers had this to say about their experience:
- Kingsley – “[Continuing from the introduction at top] The erg wouldn’t even let you set 100,000 into the monitor because it is too long a digit, so why are we attempting I asked myself, we figured out we could set it using interval variable with no rest between, which in a way kinda saved us as I can’t imagine looking a the monitor only to see 80,000m remaining, I set mine to 2 * 50,000m with no rest which was acceptable psychologically.
The last 40k was just hell! everything hurts, my bum was dead from seating in one position for hours, pins and needles on my left leg kept getting worse my shoulders felt like someone was bashing them with a baseball bat covered in spikes, my lats felt like they were set on fire and with every stroke the heat was turned up, and there was this voice in my head which was getting louder, saying ‘well you have gone past 60k now, it is ok to STOP’.
With all the pain, sweat, pins and needles and what felt like constant imminent death awaiting on the next stroke, seeing Sally and Naomi going through the same emotions, battling the same demons became a source of renewed strength for me and I am sure for them too.
I also know the pain of regret is far worse than the pain of the moment and that type of pain stays with you far longer than the pain we were under, which is now already fading into history and its place deep joy of pushing the boundaries on things you thought was impossible and even better sharing such experiences with friends and fellow rowers. We said ‘YES’ to a crazy challenge and finished it (check).”
- ·Naomi – “I am a girl who likes a plan, my plan was to beat the Av/500m of 2:22.7 which was the av split of the 5th ranked time. I just had to get into my groove and row without thinking. There were, of course some very dark moments. Things hurting that had never hurt before, but there were also times where I felt utterly in control. I am so proud of all of us and grateful that we were able to do this in the same space. I would have been incredibly tough over Zoom.”
- ·Sally – “The feeling at the end my first ever marathon was epic and something I will never forget .. BUT with 10k to go the real burn was in my lungs rather than in my arms. Don’t get me wrong my arms and shoulders also hurt like hell. Deep Heat spray is a wonderful thing! Rowing with a strap wrapped tightly across my chest was certainly taking its toll as I was fighting to breathe while being cheered on by our amazing support team. I’m really grateful to Marlow RC for allowing the challenge to take place … social distancing erging has taken on a whole new meaning!”