Medway Time Trials - 2012

Maidstone had a successful day out at Rochester in the Medway Time Trials.  The benign conditions produced some fast times, resulting in a 1st and 2nd for the club.  This was the third "win" for the Vet D Eight this year, and Andi Barker's first victory as cox.  Well done everybody!.

Boston Rowing Marathon - 2012

Boston Rowing Marathon is a very different event, which attracts a certain type of competitor from all across the country. Some have a steely look in their eye. Others strike a dazed but undaunted pose. All have one goal: get through 31 miles unscathed and with as many of your bodily bits and bods as intact as possible.

Having both completed Boston twice before, but never together, we thought it about time to remedy that. Only days after the decision to “go for it”! Anne Salmon emailed out that Boston RC had announced that they were switching the event from September to April. 5 months of training lost… What to do? Previously we both had really enjoyed the long training sessions a summer season can provide, so we started racking up the mileage both on and off the water to see if it would by possible in the time we had.

We played musical boats for a while until we landed the best fit in Angus Warner. The training was going well with some needed eyes from the bank in the form of Mr Chapman. The fact that we still had the dark nights, weekday training was restricted to land training…, Ergos, ergos & more ergos, making weekends very precious with Garmin on board clocking up the mileage. Entry submitted with 2 weeks to go, IM3 rather than MasA (shocked! Liz & Kate are over 27!) and there was no going back.

Sat 31st March, Family Ridgway made their way North, followed by Kate & Mr Chapman on the Sunday morning. In previous years the field was 200 plus boats but this year boasted 63 boats, possibly because of the move in calendar.

The boating area was looking very quiet but thankfully upbeat. On arrival bumped into Sophie Barnwell, formally of this parish, now rowing out of Star Club. She was venturing out in a 1x, which Liz can attest to, is no mean feat.

After numerous trips to the ladies room, we boated at 10:45. The start at Boston is a very relaxed affair and the start marshal has time for jokes and words of encouragement for each crew. We got off to a good start and slotted nicely into our pace, with Bardney Lock as our first target, which is 8 miles in. Those 8 miles went by without much event apart from a safety boat (ironically) nearly swamping us, but we were encouraged by taking one of the WIM3 2x.

Thankfully help was at Bardney Lock from Rich, William & Robin. Boat lifted to shoulders and up the grassy slope and very gingerly down the other side, quick strip down to (girl) skins, as the chill had left the air and we were off again. We had a chap in a 1x, just pushing off ahead of us, only to have his handle come away from the loom, a reminder that Boston can throw anything at you. We were glad that the lock was behind us, and we could get on with the meat of the course.

For the uninitiated the entire course has kilometre markers but oddly you don’t start at zero, you start just pass the 1km marker. Every marker was greeted with a cheer from the MIRC crew. However as the km markers numbers increased, I switched my mind to the miles left on the Garmin, attempting to fool myself that we were nearly home. As in training, the stats discussed in the boat were plenty, as our aim was to keep it around 8.30 min/mile.

 (sorry about the quality - shot from a phone)

The weather and the river conditions were pretty amazing, we were so lucky. There wasn’t much company down the course but there were hellos with all crews that we came across. There were cheers and familiar faces at Tattershal Bridge about 20miles done, we pulled over close to a pontoon to be chucked some supplies (which turned out to be a rather pungent egg sarnie) and off again. The remaining 11miles were fuelled by ½ a Timeout bar for Stroke and that egg sarnie for Bow, plus the well wishes and words of wisdom received via text the night before.

Sights that we saw included; fake cows, real cows, real sheep, blue skies & lots of water. As I said, it’s a long row with too few distractions from the blisters forming on your hands and the dull ache in the derriere.

Within the last 10miles there is a section of river that is straight for around 3-4 miles. When finally a bend in the river arrived it was greeted with cheers from Liz for something different to do. The 47km marker is the last one, so from then the remaining mileage was called off from the Garmin. The last bend which brings St Botolph’s Church into view, marks the last few miles.

A marshal called encouragement from the bank and informed us “Just 1km to go”, who could resist taking the pace up a bit. Liz advised when there was about 500m to go, which was followed by the ever delicate voices of Mr Chapman & Mr Ridgway, and a little yelp from Master Ridgway which gave us an extra lift. We then heard the commentator over the PA state that “the next boat coming in is Maidstone Invicta WIM3 2x”, which meant we were within a few strokes of home. I think there was a bell or a horn at the finish, possibly both, and it was all over.

We drifted into the turning area with the 1x we had met at the lock, a bit of banter and then directed to the landing stage. Unlike previous years, the whole area was covered by water. Stepping into the cold water was initially a welcome relief, but in April it got chuffing freezing, quick. As if 31 miles wasn’t enough, the slope up from the landing stage would have been a challenge for a mountain goat, but thankfully we were still in high spirits and we staggered up the bank with boat and sanity all in check. There was no mucking about, boat derigged and installed on the car in record time. All done for another year.

So how did we do? We kept within our 8.30 min mile goal. We had moments of glory under the 8 minute mile average that we’d seen in much of our training. We overtook eight crews. We have blisters the size of five pence pieces. And we also finished in a time of 4 hours 20mins, beating both our previous times in different and ahem, bigger, mixed boats. Not bad for two old girls teetering on the edge of veteran rowing. Any takers for next year?!

Special thanks go to Rich, William & Robin, who got us there and back and managed to support us down the course.

Kate Povall