The Boston Marathon

Ah! Its that time of the year again, when I am forcefully re-reminded of my father's saying.

TL;DR: 3:52:04; fifth overall. Mx IM3 VIII course record by 10 minutes, and pots in that category.

After the traditional last minute breakages (Sarah, dearly departed, slain by the Great Ouse; Big Simon, diverted into a bike ride; Chris Wood, suffering from too much humping) we ended up with the following motley crew, which was like the Ouse but with Dave R in for Simon L, and Anne for Sarah. Simon E nobly fell on his sword and offered to trailer; and Simon L, reprieved from his bike ride, joined the transport crew, completed by Meg. Thanks to the efforts of our support crew the day, excluding the rowing itself, was remarkably painless and pleasant. Decent weather helped, too.

Bailee (S), Amanda (B), Keith (3), Dave R (4), the Mayor, Dan (5), William (6), Lorraine (7), Anne (2); Will (Cox).

Bailee (S), Amanda (B), Keith (3), Dave R (4), the Mayor, Dan (5), William (6), Lorraine (7), Anne (2); Will (Cox).

We didn't take the mayor along, apparently he'd done it 57 years ago. Not to ruin the suspense but as the photo suggests, we won pots.

Before I go on, between the Great Ouse and Boston a lesser-known event occured in Germany. It was only 12.7 km, which is probably how they managed to sustain 1:30 for the distance :-).

I wrote some wise advice up in advance; you may care to read that if you're interested in generalities.

As for the race: if you look at our GPS trace, you'll see its quite consistent. There's a little period at the start while we wind ourselves up to 24, after which we're fairly constant to 10 km. After about 10 km the route goes from being due E to nearly SE; our split drops about 10 pips, because we come into a slight head wind. The three breaks in 6's for food and drink are clearly visible. We hadn't practised those, and could probably optimise about 30 seconds out of each. Going over the lock was quite efficient; short of actually running with the boat we couldn't have done much better. You can see a slight fade over the course, mitigated over the last 6 km by the approaching end, and another turn of the course back to the E. At the end we wind it up, finishing with a grand 32.

The usual Boston problem is Hands. Keith and Bailee win the bravery award. Anne I think wins the sanity award. I found gloves helpful.

Our time, 3:52:04, was good; fifth overall, fastest VIII, beaten by two quads and two doubles. Nick Thorn and his Nines IV+ were 6th. In 2013 we were 6th in 3:56 if I recall correctly. This year's crew wasn't really faster; 2013 had a respectable headwind. It was a pleasant row: a well sat boat, a good feeling to the rowing, good coxing, and good weather. Will's best call was to remind us of our finishes, and no matter how often he called, it always had a salutary effect, which I think means our finishes persistently slip off. I mean theirs do; mine don't, obviously. We kept to 23-24 without much need to push it up; our average split over the GPS record is 2:21. Our before-the-race estimate of what we needed to do to beat the former record of 4:02 was 2:22 to the lock, and 2:25 thereafter. That would have us pushing off from the lock at 1:02; as it was, we left at 1:00 so were two minutes up already; and despite the slight headwind we kept beating 2:25 splits and so salting down margin every k. At about 30 km we overtook the other Mx VIII, thus guaranteeing us the pots; to be fair they were 7 women and one man and so only technically mixed.

Here are the sweep-oared mixed records - we have no truck with sculling-type folk, of course. Elite, Sen and IM2 are up for grabs next year. As are IM2/3 IV+ records; or indeed, the 2- if anyone would like to accompany me..?

And... that's it. "Traditionally" Boston is the last act of the outgoing committee, and Simon E is now men's captain. Over to you...

Great Ouse (half) Marathon

Isle of Ely run the Great Ouse (half) Marathon. Its about 22 km, approximately the same distance as a half marathon,  and significantly shorter than Boston. Hence, an excellent training opportunity. Here we all are waiting for the start:

L to R: Keith, Big Simon, Will, Little Simon, William, Bailee, Sarah, Amanda, Lorraine, Dan.

L to R: Keith, Big Simon, Will, Little Simon, William, Bailee, Sarah, Amanda, Lorraine, Dan.

We'd been through the traditional faff of exactly which crews we could put in, who was available, and so on; which resulted in a few late subs and ended up with Keith in the mixed VIII instead of a double, and Simon E generously offering to trailer. Just before the start, we all made our careful preparations:

And... it was all great. There's a GPS trace, of course. We managed 2:08 average. We started at 18-20, went up to 24 after a few k, stayed there for a fair while (with a break in pairs at 11 k), up to 26-27 for the last ~6 k and up to 30+ for the last 2k.

Afterwards, we were all smiles. Well, nearly. This is by me, standing up at 6 and looking towards the landing stages, with the cathedral in the distance. Sarah at 7 was a touch less smiley, having got something a bit like cramp for the last 2 k.

Our time, 1:31:58, gets us the IM3 Mx VIII course record. It would also have got us the Men's IM3 course record, had we entered as all men -). Or the IM2, since there's no record yet in that category. We were 5th overall. Winner was a very impressive MasE VIII from Monmouth in 1:27.


Peterborough summer 2015: wins for men's and women's IVs

We win! The men no longer novice, and the ladies at IM3.

Simon Lloyd, Dan McGreal, Simon Emmings (cox), Bailee Stratton, Brian Stevens, Keith Lee / Lorraine Turvill, Jo Raskin, Amanda Clarkson

Simon Lloyd, Dan McGreal, Simon Emmings (cox), Bailee Stratton, Brian Stevens, Keith Lee / Lorraine Turvill, Jo Raskin, Amanda Clarkson

Photos "courtesy of", i.e. nicked from, Brian Stevens. Now, if someone photographed the men racing...

Results (from

Bumps: day 4

W3: row over. W2: down. W1: row over. M2: up! M1: down.

The last night of the bumps loomed like a giant grey rain cloud on the horizon, which is exactly what was coming. The early divisions got the worst of it.

Afterwards, we all repaired to the Waterman for drinks, speeches and prize giving.

M1: back row: Mike Parrott (5), Andy Southgate (stroke), Dan McGreal (3), Connor (pushing off), James Tidy (shouty person), Rob Doubleday (4), Chris Wood (7). Front row: Dave Richards (1), Simon Emmings (2), William Connolley (5), Paul Holland (retired hurt).

M1: back row: Mike Parrott (5), Andy Southgate (stroke), Dan McGreal (3), Connor (pushing off), James Tidy (shouty person), Rob Doubleday (4), Chris Wood (7). Front row: Dave Richards (1), Simon Emmings (2), William Connolley (5), Paul Holland (retired hurt).

Here we see M1, somewhat damp: the row down was dry enough, we timed it to not to have to wait much at Stourbridge, and the rain only really got going for the row back. But what of the race itself I hear you cry? Well, It wasn't our finest hour. We had Nines 2 behind us who had got City 3 the previous night, but not till the reach; and we'd held City off easily enough. But alas we went down in the gut. They probably got a better than usual start; we certainly rowed worse than usual after the bridge and it didn't really come together. Its always disappointing to end bumps that way; but for a crew lacking many of last year's M1, down two overall with two good solid row-overs is decent.

M2: bumped up! Yay for them, a fairly short row mowing down Champs just after the bridge. Our roving reporter reports "It wasn't pretty but it was brutally effective. Stroke showed us no mercy with a rating of 38 and we put Champs to the Sword within 100 metres of the A14. Well done M2!!! Yeah!!!!".

An ex-spoon.

An ex-spoon.

W1: rowed over.

W2: awaiting report.

W3: rowed over, but it was epic.

Bumps: day 3

W3 and W2 down. W1: up. M2 and M1: row over.

W1 looking happy, having bumped City 4 on Ditton.

W1 looking happy, having bumped City 4 on Ditton.

W3: Bumped on Ditton alas. Pic. Video.

W2: no report yet. Pic.

W1: bumped City 4 to go tenth; only one more to single-digits. Well done.

M2: rather more of them in the Waterman tonight, and they were looking much happier, having put the threat of spoons behind them with a gutsy row over. From the horse's mouth: "So a streadfast row over tonight. We held Aquaphobes nicely and they looked shattered by the finish. Another smooth start - we really have got those down to a tee now boys. They took a length out of us by the Plough but could not press home. We kept our style and rhythm beautifully - unlike last night. Will asked us to lengthen and push and we did. Never seen a Cox so excited to get a row over!" Video, with more of Jo's enthusiastic commentary. And from Will the cox (speaking on Friday): "Yesterday - it wasn’t the row over as such that got me so excited, but rather the way you guys raced; I think it was your best performance since I have been coxing you. The start was good, then we hit a pretty good rhythm after the outflow to start ourselves moving away. The focus was there when it was needed, particularly around corners where they appeared to get closer quite quickly (purely due to the fact that we have started cornering and they haven’t). Having watched the video their bank party was being extremely optimistic with their whistles - at times I thought they were a lot closer than they were, but top job for absorbing their pushes and stepping away. The best part for me was the first 2/3 of the reach where we pushed up the boat speed and hit a sweet rhythm, their whistles stopped and you guys were flying - that was what got me so excited. Today - very simple objective: give Champs spoons! For the past three days there have been crews above us that I know we could catch, the only problem was that they weren’t one station ahead - but today they are! Same attack, same control, and same length as yesterday. Don’t wait for the bump to come to you, make it happen."

M1: as always, bumps continues to surprise. Today, for the first time ever in my long and -ahem- illustrious bumps career, I was pretty sure I was going to have an unexciting row over: Tabs 3 would walk away ahead, and behind us City 3 had nothing extra to give. Both of these things happened, but what I failed to foresee was Tabs 3 failing to take Grassy in a blades-on-the-bank-need-a-restart type of way. Which left us suddenly going from 3 lengths off to half a length off. We didn't really know what was going on. I had a brief moment of worrying that we'd get so caught up trying to catch them we'd exhaust ourselves in their wash and get caught by City. But happily after we kept half a length down Plough reach, they pulled away down the reach, and City dropped back before having the decency to be bumped by Nines 2. Another might-have-been: had we pulled out all the stops at that point, we might well have got them. Or we might have fallen apart instead; so probably just as well. And tomorrow? We have someone new behind us. Nines are clearly faster than City; but we'd dropped City by the time Nines got them; so I'm quietly hopeful. Video from the Gut. Video from Jo (3:50 for Tabs crash).

Nothing to do with our club, but I really liked this pair of pix of Robs and Tabs1, from Wednesday: