Double Gold in Wales

Double gold for City duo at Welsh Indoor Rowing Champs

adam and ben 
Which way's the gun shop?

Congratulations to Adam Scrivner and Ben Redman who both returned from the Welsh Indoor Rowing Champs with gold medals. Full results linked to below, but take a moment to read their highly entertaining race reports...


Fat bloke and thin bloke do OK at Welsh Indoor Rowing Championship (Adam's report)


Some time ago I started thinking that it would be fun to enter some indoor rowing competitions. In reality, it isn’t fun – it is usually fairly unpleasant. Anyway, having done moderately well in the English IRC in February, I thought that I would have a crack at the British Champs in November, so I set about doing some erging in preparation. Training was going well until the summer when a spot of over-exuberance resulted in a sprained wrist, and therefore six weeks of no erging. Once I was able to row again there was just enough time to get some serious work done before the BIRC, so I got on with it. Again, everything was going well until the small issue of a nasty haematoma on my leg resulted in a fortnight of interrupted training and me missing the BIRC. Knowing that I would likely be unavailable for the English IRC in January, I decided to enter the Welsh IRC, even though my fitness was nowhere near the level for which I was aiming. Prior to submitting my entry I performed a fitness test to ensure that I wasn’t going to embarrass myself too much at the competition; this went better than anticipated so I popped my entry in the post and waited!

Sure enough, the following week a race schedule and list of entrants were posted on the Concept 2 website and I spotted that City’s very own Mighty Ben Redman would be racing at the same time as myself (the Lwt 30-39 and Hwt 30-39 were both scheduled for 12.40pm). This was good news (provided that Ben didn’t beat me!).

To save myself a four-hour drive before the race I elected to drive to Cardiff the day before, and fortunately managed to book myself into an inexpensive B&B. Approaching the day of the competition the weather reports were pretty awful, so to avoid the possibility of getting stuck in the snow and missing the race I booked Friday off work, left Cambridge on Thursday evening and spent a night at my brother’s house which is conveniently located halfway between Cardiff and Cambridge. It transpired that the M4 was completely clear of snow and almost empty of traffic too, aside from the usual imbeciles who deem it reasonable to drive with a few cubic feet of snow still on their vehicle, with only a small section of windscreen cleared so that they can see who they are going to crash into.

Cardiff - a lovely place

Having carefully prepared for my journey by printing off some directions from Google Maps I promptly ignored them when approaching Cardiff and got lost. Happily I chanced across some kindly locals and, language barriers aside, managed to obtain some useful directions. After another ten minutes of driving at 20mph while trying to spot road signs (with a substantial queue of traffic behind me) I finally located my accommodation – the Avala Guest House. Admittedly it wasn’t the worst place that I had stayed but I felt that the absence of soap in the bathroom and the lack of a small packet of biscuits accompanying the tea-and-coffee-making facilities was perhaps a little tight. My only real concern was on finding out that the fire exit for the entire floor was in my bedroom, thus the bedroom door lock had some sort of quick-release mechanism. Fortunately there was no fire alarm and I slept fairly well, although I was moderately disturbed in the morning to find that the emergency door seemed to have come open of its own accord during the night. All in all, a bit of a dump really, so I wouldn’t recommend staying there.

Although my race was not for a few hours I enjoyed a nutritious breakfast of fruit loaf and a disgusting protein drink and set off to find the competition venue. My innate sense of direction resulted in me getting lost, despite the hotel proprietor giving me a map, carefully explaining the route to me and even highlighting it so that it was easy to follow. Hmm. Eventually I skidded past the Channel View Centre on the sheet ice (it was a bit nippy!) and parked without crashing. The venue was much smaller and more intimate than for the BIRC and EIRC, being essentially a public sports centre, although this meant that there was a good atmosphere in the race hall (i.e. it was slightly smelly).

Having arrived three hours early I caught the first race (exciting stuff!) and then decided to surf the net for a while and insert some food into my face. During the morning I was pleased to see Ben confidently striding into the venue, and I excitedly went to greet him. With my race scheduled for 12.40pm I elected to get warmed up at 12.20pm. Ben was already getting sweaty so I decided to join him, and my arrival prompted him to remove some clothing. Having finished his warm-up before me, I noticed that Ben was frantically gesturing at me to follow him to the race arena. “There’s no rush” I thought, as there were still 8 minutes before the race was scheduled to begin. What could possibly go wrong?

I finished warming up and made my way downstairs to the arena, stopping en route to blow my nose and have a drink of water. I then entered the arena and noticed that the race was literally about to begin – “Attention” was displayed on the erg screens – maybe 4-5 minutes earlier than scheduled. Oh dear. I legged it to my erg (number 14) and then realised that I needed to set the drag factor, but with the machines in “race” mode this was impossible. By standing up and waving my arms in his face I managed to attract the attention of the commentator who was slightly over-eager to get proceedings underway, and he very kindly allowed me 30s or so to get strapped in and set an appropriate drag factor, which I broadly succeeded in doing. At this point I noticed the other competitors, including a Russian gentleman on my right who was approximately 6’7” and built like a brick outhouse. Oh well. The chap on my left looked marginally more human, and a little way along I spotted Mighty Ben, who obviously looks superhuman. Interestingly, at the WIRC the race screen (on which each competitor is shown as a little yellow boat) is displayed in front of the competitors, unlike at the EIRC and BIRC, so that you can see your position relative to the others in your heat. Possibly helpful, but would it prove to be a distraction?

Suddenly the race began. Still knackered from my warm-up I mucked up the start and shot straight into joint 10th place (i.e. last) behind Ben and about 12 others. The Russian was straight into a clear 20m lead. Failing to hit my target pace I struggled appallingly through the first 500m, by which time I had made my way up to approximately 7th. Attempting to pull myself together, I upped my pace slightly (getting closer to target pace!!) and by 1000m had painfully ground my way into about 3rd, still perhaps 15m behind first place. A glance up at the screen showed that Ben was well ahead of the other lightweights. For the next 500m of suffering I seemed to be gradually creeping up on the Russian, and we were neck-and-neck for a while, but with 500m to go I decided to unleash the guns (yes, rowing IS an arm sport) and then eased my way into first place. The Russian seemed to run out of steam at this point and so I was left with a dilemma: do I simply do enough to win, or do I go at it all-out and really do my best? Well, clearly I must really enjoy suffering because I managed to keep up the pace until the end, finishing some 11s ahead of the Russian with a time of 6:12.7, which turned out to be joint overall fastest of the day. Not bad. A gentleman very kindly came over with a bucket for me to throw up into, but fortunately this was not necessary. Ben finished shortly after, easily winning the lightweight category in 6:48.8.

After shaking hands with the other competitors I staggered out of the race hall and stumbled upstairs to the warm-up area to attempt to flush some lactic acid out of my muscles. I could only manage a couple of minutes but that enabled me to stop panting and coughing and meant that I could consume my recovery drink (a small carton of Tesco value orange juice). I then felt sufficiently well to put on some clothes and brave the arctic conditions outside in search of some lunch. I had to be back for the medal ceremony but that wasn’t scheduled until 2.20pm, so I knew that I had plenty of time.

Returning with a samosa in my hand / face / beard and a chicken tikka sandwich in my pocket I re-entered the race hall to find that the medal presentations had taken place an hour earlier than scheduled and that I had just missed my slot. Apparently they called for me three times. Oops. Fortunately one of the other competitors had a word and the organisers very kindly presented my medal, which was most accommodating of them. Ben then forced me to pose with him in several pictures, which was nice. Overall I had a really great day and the event was very friendly with a tremendous atmosphere. If you are considering entering an indoor rowing event then the WIRC is certainly not a bad place to start.

All in all, not a bad day for CCRC.

Ben's Race Report

City's new kit design?

I'd been suffering a cold for the last couple of days before Cardiff (bad enough to actually take a day off work, which is pretty unusual), and had a really rubbish nights sleep the night before (during this I'd decided that I'd lower my expectations on pace a bit).

Arriving in Cardiff, I was feeling better than I expected, and nervous as hell [image: :-D] Found Adam, and then headed on to weigh-in (74.4kg - 600g to spare! With jumpers still on! It must have looked quite funny...).

I actually found the warmup room this year (a squash court upstairs full of ergs - seemed like quite a good environment for an erg room actually!). I'd heard they were running behind, but was paranoid enough to start warming up early, and then got the timing just about right. The race was to be both the 30-39 lightweights and heavyweights at the same time.

The race started really well - I was up with Adam and some of the other Hwts off of the start, so playing with the big boys [image: :-D] Drifted down to 1:42 by about 200m (with the average just under that despite a lot of 1:30's in the start - grrrr - race software - grrr!).

There was a big screen with tiny boats on it representing the race, but I couldn't focus on the screen enough to see what was going on from my erg in the corner. Fortunately a friend was doing some coaching and said I was in the lead, with 2nd place 3m behind. I stayed on 1:42 as per my illness plan...

1km - this was feeling really cruisy. 2nd place began to drop back here - I think it became 12m by the time I realised this. I started to hear the commentator mention my name a bit, and could see Adam in the lead of the entire race!

1400m - it still felt cruisy up till this point, and I was considering starting winding it up.

1500m - oh. My. GOD! Who put this brick wall here! AGGGGGGH! I have a beautiful photo from about this point of some proper gurning... I think this is where the lack of sleep and illness really kicked in.

I have no idea what happened after that. I know I somehow managed to finish, but there was no sprinting going on. The last 500 was 1:45 average ish I think, which was enough to win by about 10 seconds in the end!


6:48.8 total I think. (I think I was lucky that the guy in 2nd place tried to keep up during the earlier part of the race and then suffered later on, as I think that was about the time he did at BIRC).

I then went for a quiet lay down with a bucket for about half an hour (it wasn't actually needed, but it was comforting all the same).

I almost missed the medal ceremony as I'd watched the open Hwt race (superb close finish, with a big Russian chap pulling it out of the bag in the dying moments! ), and then gone to get a camera from the car. I'd had plans on taking Merryn up on the podium with me, but when I realised what was going on I had to dump the camera on the floor and run to the podium!

Adam actually managed to miss his ceremony...

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