Million Meter Maniacs team member Susan Pease takes over for one of her runs during the Memorial Day weekend attempt.
Reminder Publishing photo by Trent Levakis

HOLYOKE — A team of 10 local rowers, aged 60-69, rowed one million meters over the course of Memorial Day weekend to set the first world record for indoor rowing in their age group.

Going by the Million Meter Maniacs team, the group set out to set the world record in indoor rowing for their age group as well as use the attempt as an opportunity to raise money in support of the Youth Rowing Program at Holyoke Rows.

Rowing began on the afternoon of Thursday, May 23 and wrapped up Memorial Day morning at 7:33 a.m., with the record-breaking time coming in at 88:29:26.3. The official name of the world record is the Small Team Million Meter Record Mixed 60-69.

One million meters is equal to 621 miles, which is the equivalent of rowing from New Haven to Myrtle Beach, North Carolina. The five men and five women took turns rowing on a single ergometer, an air resistance rowing machine created by Concept2, the company that administers the world records.

Between each hour set, rowers would rack up between 9,000-14,000 meters per hour, according to one of the event’s organizers and member Kevin Lonergan of Longmeadow.

“This would have been a lot easier in our 20s, but we like to think of ourselves as old and bold, which is why we put ‘maniacs’ in our team name,” Lonergan said. “We’re going to stop when the number hits a million meters.”
To qualify for the record, rowing must be uninterrupted until the million meters were reached.

“If the flywheel of the machine stops, we’re disqualified, so we’ve been practicing our speedy transfers between rowers,” said Kei Gauthier, another event organizer and team member, before the event.

Gauthier, who has logged many million meters over the past two decades — primarily in his basement — said he got the idea for the record after discovering the million-mile challenge website.

“I noticed that there are no records set for 60-69 age. I knew immediately that I had to do it,” Gauthier said.

This led to Gauthier reaching out to Lonergan and other team member Paolo Ferreria to begin recruitment for the record-breaking attempt.

Documentation of the record-breaking run was kept through photography, video and witness logs to ensure the achievement is verified.

Holyoke Rows is a nonprofit community boathouse that offers rowing, kayaking and dragon boating to people of all ages and abilities. The record-breaking attempt as of print time had reached $5,000 of its $10,000 goal for the youth program fundraising.

Team member Paolo Ferreria said that the team decided on a fundraising goal to help round out the event.
“We decided to set it as one million cents, which works out to be $10,000. We’ll be asking friends and family to celebrate our world record by donating, and we’re inviting people to drop in and row along with us and make a donation,” Ferreria said before the attempt.

Team member Susan Pease said the fundraising aspect of the attempt should help promote what Holyoke Rows has to offer for its community and bring in youth looking to get involved in rowing. She added the youth programs need financial assistance like this in order to find success.

“We want to use our event to bring attention to the Holyoke Rows youth programs. We all love rowing and we want young people to be able to enjoy it too,” said Pease. “Holyoke Rows does a great job getting middle schoolers on the water. They learn about the river, they get safety training and they get to experience teamwork while they are having a blast. But it takes a lot of financial support to provide a great program to kids.”

To learn more about the event or how to donate, visit HolyokeRows.org or follow the Holyoke Rows Facebook page.

tlevakis@thereminder.com | + posts