There are a lot of non-rowers out there amongst my readers – and some pretty impressively fit ones, I’ll be the first to admit. Now, I’m guessing some of you runners and triathletes and body builders have had a go on the rowing machine in the gym every now and then (forgive me while I pause for the rowers to have a quiet snigger; our favourite sport, apart from rowing, is watching non-rowers on the erg). I’m also guessing you’re up for a challenge.
Well, now’s your chance to find out how good you really are at the erg. World Champion rowers Katherine Grainger and Olympic gold medallists Mark Hunter and Greg Searle are giving you an insight into just how hard the selection for the GB Rowing Team is by inviting you – yes, that’s you – to take your own trial on a rowing machine.
For the month of February the team is running The Nation on Trial initiative: the chance to take your own 2km trial, whilst also raising money for the event’s charity partner, The Stroke Association. 2km is the distance of the Olympic rowing course and is the standard length of race at the World and British Rowing Championships.
The 2k erg test is also possibly the hardest thing a rower ever has to do; and most rowers have to do them at regular intervals. They can, in some clubs, make the difference between getting a place in a boat and watching from the bank.
So, back to the challenge. Here’s how it works. Anyone of any ability aged 16 and over can register on the event website www.nationontrial.org and access expert training advice on how to use a rowing machine as well as hearing messages of encouragement from World Champions such as Grainger, Richard Chambers and Searle. You train and build up to rowing 2km as fast as you can on a rowing machine at a local gym or rowing club. You record your time as many times as you like on the event website between 1 and 29 February; this will show how you compare with friends and workmates as well as with the entry standard for the GB selection process.
Who knows? You might find you get a taste for it. You might decide to try out rowing on the water. You might even find you’re one of that rare breed of people (count me out) who actually enjoy the erg. Just one thing, though. Ergs don’t float.