By roving reporter "Lorraine".
It’s become customary to wind off the rowing year with a crew undertaking to compete in the Boston Marathon, a 50 km row from Lincoln to Boston. The last couple of years (2015, 2016) we’ve stumbled upon a good formula of entering a mixed eight and although it’s still challenging to find 4 men and 4 women mad enough to race 50 km it does usually come together. It’s a good idea to use the Great Ouse (half) marathon as training and 6 of the crew this year had indeed done that albeit in different crews, a mixed eight and a women’s quad. This year’s crew comprised of three men and five women and a few outings were cobbled together. Nothing too strenuous just a few outings to get used to rowing together, working out the most suitable rate for the crew, a practice “over-the-lock” and a one hour erg!
The day of the race Sunday 17th September, the crew had an early start to get to the Lincoln Rowing Centre and it was mistier and colder than we’d expected. The boat was unloaded and put together, drinks and snacks discussed and arranged, bacon sandwiches and coffee consumed in the convenient café and important last loo trips made. Then it was time to boat.
Once the boat was on the water, there little time to make adjustments, you’re called up to the start line with no room for a warm up and you’re off. A standing start for 50km is a little odd but necessary due to the lack of space for rolling starts. We set off at an optimistic pace, soon settling down into a rhythm. The sun came out and with little wind conditions were near perfect. We passed a couple of doubles before we reached the first major obstacle, Bardsey Lock at 13km. Our wonderful support crew had helped boats off the landing stage to make sure it was clear for us. We’d practiced interlocking the oars and “hand-bagging” it over the lock and so we managed to do this fairly efficiently, even though the banks are steep, grassy and slippery. The crew quickly got back in and pushed off and it was at this point we were passed by Olympian James Cracknell, who was competing in a single scull. We had our first stop for a drink and a snack just after the lock and then we were ready for the long stint to the finish. We were followed at times by our support crew, who drove down lanes to take pictures and shout encouragement. We had our second stop at just over half way (25km), this time in rolling sixes, a minute each pair so just enough time for a quick slurp and half a banana. Even with gloves blisters were now becoming sore but the refreshments gave us a second wind of strength and power and that combined with a men’s eight coming for us in the distance we took on a new pace, more pressure and a determination not to let them overtake. It was welcome change of pace having something to break up the monotony of the high-sided dyke. They did eventually overtake but we then had a second battle with a single sculler who had overtaken us but slowed down and we were ever so gradually able to grind him back down Our cox (Manja) was brilliant, motivating, encouraging and light-hearted even with very few hours sleep, we couldn’t have had a better person for the job. We seemed on target for 4 hours and to beat the current Mx Masters C8+ course record if we kept up the pace. At 12km to go we had our final break in rolling sixes and then we were ready for the final push for home geed on by our support crew cheering us on at Langrick Bridge. At 3km to go we took it up another notch to more like a head race pace. As we neared the finish our cox could see our local rivals the Nine’s Women’s Eight in the distance and we took up the pressure again, even though we had not much more to give, but we hung on and pushed as hard as we could. It was the longest 500m ever!
Then we could hear the finish marshall, the horn sounded and that was it, it was over. Our bodies finally giving up as we crossed the line. The unofficial time was 4 hours 3 minutes. Very respectable. We spun the boat with great difficulty, hands hurting and bodies aching but thankfully our support crew were there to help us out onto dry land. Once safely on trestles we all took on the much needed food and drink of true athletes - pork pie, flapjack and beer!
We all agreed that we had enjoyed it! And we’d bagged another course record confirmed at 4 hours 3 minutes beating the previous record of 4 hours 14 minutes. After t-shirts had been purchased “You need to row it to know” an improvement on the former “it’s long and hard” we hung around for a bit to see one of our crew from last year Valentina, pick up the trophy for fastest crew of the day, a mixed quad in a blistering 3 hours 19 minutes even beating the Olympian James Cracknell who finished in a time of 3 hours 31 minutes.
Crew: Amanda, Steve O, Dan, William, Lorraine, Juliet, Angela, Anne; Manya.