Months of training and 24 hours of pushing through the pain all comes down to one goal: Setting a world record.
Witness the power at the Mercyhurst University EnduROWthon, sponsored by the Mercyhurst Rowing Team, Student Activities Council and Mercyhurst Student Government. The event runs from 9 p.m. Thursday, March 7, to 9 p.m. Friday, March 8, at the Mercyhurst Athletic Center.
The crew of 10 student-athletes from the men’s rowing team will attempt to make the record books for the greatest distance rowed by a lightweight men’s small team on an indoor Concept II rowing machine in a 24-hour period.
Better yet? They’re doing it for a good cause: Donations and sponsorships from the event will benefit the John C. Kanzius Cancer Research Foundation and Project Kenya, a Mercyhurst-based effort to help fund the high school tuition of a Kenyan girl. Proceeds will also help to fund the team’s travel to compete at theIRA Championships in Sacramento and at England’s Henley Royal Regatta.
In addition to the top test of endurance put forth by the men’s team, the Mercyhurst EnduROWthon invites members of the Mercyhurst and Erie communities to sign up to hop on the rowing machine themselves for 500 meters – the event organizers are also vying to break the record for most people rowing on a single erg in a 24-hour period.
That’s right: Two separate world records in 24 hours.
The team is hoping to have hundreds of people participate. To keep energy and spirits high, raffles, give-a-ways and entertainment are planned throughout the night. Those who sign up to row for the “most people on an erg” record receive a free T-shirt.
Going the Distance
The men’s team must meet certain criteria for them to clinch the distance record, says coach Adrian Spracklen: No more than 10 men can be on the team, and they must be within 20 and 29 years old and weigh under 165 pounds. In the 24-hour period, the machine’s flywheel must not stop spinning, or else the team is disqualified.
This grueling and continuous demonstration of endurance presents a unique coaching challenge, and Spracklen has meticulously calculated the optimal work-to-rest ratio for his team. They’ll rest with 20-minute naps and fuel up with easy-to-digest, liquid-based nutrition like sports drinks, chocolate milk and yogurt. The success will come from thorough planning, he says – not motivation. His guys have that covered.
“We have a great, highly motivated team,” Spracklen said. “Even at 2, 3 and 4 in the morning, I know they have it within themselves to keep going. That’s why we knew this year’s team had the right people to take on this challenge.”
About the Team
The 10 student-athletes on the world record lineup include: Xavier Alexander, a junior computer systems major from Philadelphia; Jeff Murt, a senior intelligence studies major from Southgate, Mich.; Ivan Palikuca, a senior computer information systems major from Belgrade, Serbia; Dave Cullmer, a senior mathematics and philosophy major from New Milford, Conn.; Milos Veres, a freshman hospitality management major from Belgrade, Serbia; Marcin Osajda, a senior competitive intelligence major from Poznan, Poland; Sam Rouse, a sophomore undecided major from New Milford, Conn.; Gary Loo, a sophomore criminal justice major from Sacramento, Calif.; Zack Pappas, a junior accounting major from Colden,N.Y.; and Jake Schuppe, a senior exercise science major from Madison, Wis.
Schuppe calls rowing “the ultimate team sport” – no wonder it’s the subject of so many office motivational posters, he jokes. But it’s the confidence, focus and effort of each individual rower that ensures a team’s success. That individual strength will be put to the test in the world record effort.
“When I start getting into the ‘pain cave,’ as a lot of us call it, I just tell myself it’s one foot in front of the other,” Schuppe said. “One stroke after the next.”
With a schedule that includes Penn, Columbia and MIT, Mercyhurst men’s rowing has achieved considerable success in recent years. In 2012, the men's varsity lightweight eight team finished the campaign ranked tenth according to the US Rowing Collegiate Poll, and for the third consecutive year captured gold at the prestigious Dad Vail Regatta – the largest collegiate regatta in the U.S., held on the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia.
Stay updated on the EnduROWthon on Twitter on @HurstEndurow, or visit the live feed.