Evening All. This is Scoop, your roving reporter back from BIRC and ready to dish the latest on the UK indoor rowing scene.
Quite a lot has already been said above, so I'm hoping that I can use this missive to pull all the results together with an overview of the day. This was the fastest moving day I have ever seen with the races moving like express trains and very easy to blink and miss three (especially if you were rowing yourself).
A huge FS contingent at BIRC today. Lovely to meet up with old and new faces and to put faces to names on the board. More on that later.
First race was the ladies HW of most age categories. At this point a word to our friend and EIRC Gold medallist, Jane Daffern. Jane was registered for this race but I spoke to Plummy and he explained that Jane has decided to let a few events go by without her presence. As we can all imagine it is nearly impossible to top a gold medal at a major championship so all we can say is Jane, we miss you and we're thinking about you and whatever you have decided to do is fine by us. You'll always be a winner in our books
The day began to accelerate uncontrollably from this point, with all 20+ FS due to have competed within the next 90 minutes. Next race was the 50-54 and 55-59 MHWT heats and we were ably represented by Alan (Strider), Huw Thomas, Tor and Paul Grinham. I saw the beginning of the race before I dashed to do my WU and in spite of a false start in his race Huw seemed to be looking very solid on the front row. When I caught up with them later there was good news. Huw had pulled a brilliant 6:43.4, a mere 3.1" off his PB to come 7th (and a tribute to his sheer determination and punishing training schedule after recovering from the most horrendous knee problems), Colin had only gone and flaming-well PB'd AGAIN with a fantastic 7:12.8, knocking a second off the old one to come 20th and Tor had PB'd (since this was his first 2k
) with a marvellous 7:17.6 to come 33rd. Competition was stiff! Strider came in at 7:00.9 for 11th place in his race, and he was slightly disappointed, but I had a quick look and it is worth noting that his time would have given him a bronze in the 60-64 category which is where he'll be next year
Now an embarrassing admission from me in that I didn't (knowingly) manage to meet or speak to Paul, but I have obviously seen his post so congratulations to you too Paul on your 7:28.7
BIRC steamrollered on with the MHWT's and at 10am saw the race that has probably been the most eagerly anticipated of the season. Jason, Mat, Jon, Andy (Flatlander), the resident UK 35-39 big guns and all capable of pulling very naughty 2k times indeed, were joined by Olaf from Norway in the 65-69. Once again the chaos of warming up and being herded into the arena didn't allow me to watch them but some massive performances. Jason who has already reported that he fell victim to the famously dry air in the National Indoor Arena still managed to pull a fantastic 6:27.5 to finish 8th when most others would have given up. Mat gave us the fastest FS time of the day, a truly magnificent 6:21.3 and a PB by 2 seconds to finish 7th and Andy, who was disappointed with his performance last year and who has only returned to training relatively recently brought us a brilliant 6:32.0, only 3.2 seconds off his PB to finish 13th (good luck with the panto Andy
). Jon, who had a confused start with lack of instructions due to being in the bullpen nevertheless pulled a splendid 6:28.5, only 5" off PB and with a HD with 300 to go
. Olaf was not be outdone and he finished with a superb bronze medal in 7:17.7
Then suddenly I was sat on my erg
next to Lee and with Wolfie and Stan behind us and Peter Weiss somewhere is the maze of ergs. I was expecting a nice shiny new one but this erg looked like it had already done a few (hundred) sub 7's in it's time. No matter. The PM4 was working which is the main thing I suppose. (Just trying to build in a few lame excuses for my performance before I tell you about it
) Difficult to keep an eye on the others during the race but I held it together well for the first 800 at around 1:41. all of this time I was hoping that Wolfies name wouldn't appear on my monitor (because that would mean he was going slower than we wanted him to
) and he didn't. I had a dreadful middle section from 800-1600 before I retrieved a little honour with a stronger finish. 6:48.6 for me, 3.4" off PB for 20th and not altogether disappointed after my poor training. Peter, who shows extraordinary dedication in making regular visits from Germany to compete with us rowed a great 6:55.9 for 29th and 5" behind PB. he told me he was 'moderately pleased' but I think we can say it was much better than that. Stan defied all the experts to come in at under 7:30 - he made 7:29.1 for 60th and a great row - a target he wasn't entirely sure he'd reach so well done Stan, whilst Lee who was next to me managed a great 6:34.2, a mere 1.9" off his PB to take a brilliant 7th - he was a tad disappointed but only because this wasn't his day to break 6:30 which he undoubtedly will soon
One person who did get to the elusive target he had set himself was the inimitable Wolfie who had rowed himself into the sub 6:40 club with an astounding 6:37.8, 10th place and a PB by 2.7"
This really is an amazing achievement after his already marvellous 6:40.2 in the August CTC. Talking to him afterwards he had been (relatively) relaxed and comfortable during the race and in spite of my odd CTC wins against him I now realise that there was never any doubt as to who was 'Da man' between us. Well done Steve
Still more erging to come as the LWT's took the stage. Plummy was on at 10:30 and came in with 7:13.9 and 16th (which is a sight better than I could have managed after 2 weeks on a luxury cruise
) At 10:50, Roger Burrell (75-79), Odd (50-54) and Pete Tullett (50-54) set off. Pete rowed a great race in 7:07.0 and improved his last years BIRC time by about 2" whilst taking 7th place. Roger a very commendable 8:36.6 for another Bronze
whilst Odd, as the pictures above show screamed away for a magnificent Gold
in 6:43.7. This is 7 seconds off his PB but remember that Odd too has been battling with knee problems and only managed to get 10 days training in for BIRC, which makes this achievement all the more remarkable.
Our lightweight ladies wound up the FS participation at 11:15. The indomitable Rachel Rhodes rowed a splendid 8:52.6, only 0.3" off her Manchester PB for 6th place, whilst the ever-remarkable Gillian Burrell took Gold once again in the 75-79 ladies with an astounding 9:23.7
Won't expand on the Open here but both Graham Benton and Debbie Flood's wins were majestic - maybe they should have children together
This missive has already gone on long enough but a just a quick word to say what a pleasure it was to meet Odd, Olaf and Tor, the Norwegian FS and true gentlemen all three, to see our record holding Bill Wright who has given me so much support now lending his support to the team and looking so well
to see Paul Gould again who also came to lend his support and to meet Gary Dakin again - the man who trademarked painful intervals on the erg. As always a pleasure to see the regular crowd and to meet Huw for the first time. Also managed to chat to Pete Marston and Gwyn Samuel. Wolfie is local to Birmingham and naturally led to the local hostalry for some beer and banter. The banter was pleasant, the beer wasn't
It's been a sad week for me and I hope you won't mind me mentioning this here. I deliberately avoided telling anyone earlier on the forum or today as I didn't want to affect the happy and positive FS mood of BIRC but my Mum passed away on Wednesday morning. I know about the 'merciful release' bit etc etc but it's still very hard - there's never the right time to lose your Mum. This has led to a very emotional and sleep-deprived 3 days. I wanted to dedicate my row to her today but it was a bit rubbish so I might wait until I've done a better one.