I am fortunate enough to have met and spent time with Sir Steve Redgrave on numerous occasions over the years at charity, rowing and local Marlow events. So earlier this year I thought I would contact him to ask if we (Liz and I) could meet him to discuss our idea and pick his brains. After all, he has experienced events on this scale and he might be able to shed some light on how best to capture media interest, the training required and share any contacts that might be of use.
Steve very kindly invited myself and Liz over to his home to chat and we came away feeling that the whole thing was just that little bit more achievable. The best part of that meeting was the fact that he thought it was a great idea; the most useful part was that he was able to give us the contact details of Malcolm Knight, the man that holds the record I might be attempting to break!
So the next step was to get in touch with Malcolm and see if he would be interested in sharing any knowledge with us. There was every chance that he might be quite protective, he is the current record holder aftar all.
We could not have been more wrong… He was so generous with his time and his knowledge that after only a couple of emails we arranged to meet up in Marlow for a coffee, or two.
Liz and I were excited and nervous, what could, what would he tell us? Would our hopes be dashed or would we feel that this crazy dream could become a reality?
What a lovely man… he arrived with the tome that contained information on all 5, yes 5 of his World Records, most importantly the Lechlade to Gravesend row. It included the photographs, technical information, letters, time sheets and much more that gave us a real insight into the task we were about to undertake.
I asked him why he was so keen to share all this with us, and his response was that anyone who is crazy enough to attempt this deserves all the help he can give them.
‘I am throwing down the gauntlet Naomi… if you are willing to pick it up, you have my support.’
We came away with our heads spinning but we now knew what he had to do:
- Decide on a date
- Sort out the boat I will use
- Sort out the support boat/s we will need
- List the jobs that need doing leading up to and on the day/3 days of the row
- Send out ‘save the date’ emails asking for 70-80 volunteers for the row: from drivers, to first aiders, to lock teams to people willing to get me out of the boat and change my kit when I am no longer able.
There was one particular thing that stuck in my mind, every detail needs to be taken care of by Liz and the team of volunteers, I should not have to think about anything except each stroke and getting to the next lock. The food will be there when I need it, the kit will be there when I need it, the team should be able to pre-empt every situation. Not only was this the most vital bit of information, it was also the most terrifying. I knew I would feel exhaustion beyond anything I had ever felt before, that’s a given; it was more the way Malcolm described it… he talked about crying for the last section from The Barrier to Gravesend Pier, he had no control over that, it just happened.
Anyone who knows me knows I am good at crying, or bad at it… it depends on how you look at it I guess 8-).
One thing that I think surprised Liz but that made perfect sense was… ‘All the volunteers who have contact with me need to leave sympathy at home… it will not help.’
Time to start planning… this is real… this will happen!
If you would like to know how you can get involved in this, please contact us at info@IN-vision.org.uk and we can send you all the information you might need.
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