I thought that I had better write something about the next interesting challenge that I am undertaking. Mind you this is after I have competed in Canada at the Para-Cycling World Cup and the Para-Cycling World Championships at the end of August.
A few months ago I was contacted by Barbara Ramjan, a rowing coach at the Balmain Rowing Club in Sydney, and she asked me if I was interested in being part of Para-Rowing Crew for Head of the Charles. Well this race has been on my bucket list since about 2009 when they included Para Rowing in the program. But Para-Cycling comes first for me right now, so I asked her what I would have to commit to for the crew. She told me one weekend a month would be required between then and when I was going away to World Championships, so I agreed to take part.
But talk about getting thrown in the deep end (no pun intended). After not having rowed seriously for about 2 years our first couple of weekends have been a rude awakening! Especially for my hands! We have been doing between 50-55km each weekend and are really coming together as a crew.
Speaking of crew, it is a real mix of people. For those of you that don’t know anything about Para Rowing there are three categories: AS – stands for Arms and Shoulders – this is a category for people who have a spinal injury very high up with no trunk control/or missing both legs, they row in an adapted single scull using just their arms and shoulders. TA – stands for Trunk and Arms – this category is for people who do have trunk control but cannot use the sliding seat, so legs may not work at all or may not bend and this category is a mixed category, so one man and one woman in a double scull. And last the LTA category – Legs, Trunk and Arms – so people who can use a standard boat and all three parts of the body required to row. So these people may be amputees of one leg, Cerebral Palsy, Multiple Sclerosis, Vision Impaired or missing a number of digits and they row in a Coxed Four as a mixed crew of 2 women and 2 men. Our crew consists of Kate Murdock (Vision Impaired) as our Stroke, from Sydney, Pete Siri (above knee amputee) 3 seat, from Townsville, myself (Multiple Sclerosis) 2 seat, from Melbourne and Steve Knott (Arm impairment and brain injury) bow seat, from Sydney. Our cox is Nell Duly who is able bodied, from Sydney. The coach for the crew is Lindsay Callaghan from the Penrith Rowing Club with Barbara and Anne Craig from the Balmain Rowing Club who are putting the entire trip together. We have two emergency rowers Sara Waitzer from Melbourne and Nikolai Olding from Sydney. We are a big mix of experienced and new rowers and it is really good to share experiences with the newer rowers. We were lucky enough to be able to have a Skype conversation with Australian Olympian Kim Crow this past weekend to give us some tips on the race, as she had done it last year (Kim came 2nd in the Women’s Single Scull and was part of an international 8+ that came 2nd as well). It was wonderful of her to take time out to chat with us and explain all about the race weekend!
This regatta is billed as the largest regatta in the world with 2000 crews taking part. They are sent off at 10 second intervals over 2 days and with 300,000 people lining the river bank cheering the crews on it is a real celebration of rowing!
It is very exciting to think that I will be ticking this one challenge off my bucket list! But before we get there we are doing some fundraising! We are aiming to raise $30,000 to get everyone there and cover all the costs and we are well on our way and have as of today 159 days until we race! There are a few things happening if anyone is interested in helping us out.
1. I am running a movie night and you can book tickets for the Wednesday June 19th movie at Palace Westgarth Theatres at 89 High Street, Northcote on this link Adaptive Rowers International Challenge, I would love to see some of you there to watch The Great Gatsby with me!
2. To make a donation and get more information about the crew, you can go to 2013 LTA Head of the Charles Project
3. I will be having a Karma Keg at the Northcote Social Club – Date TBC, but I will let you know when it is, so if you are into having a beer with friends it will be the place to be!