Miles of smiles from a pair of rowing machines

LIBBY WILSON
Last updated 05:00 11/01/2014
Waikato Times

Endurance indoor rowers Falstaff Dowling-Mitchell and Aaron Ellis are raising money for charity by attempting to row the fastest time for a million metres (1000km). Failing that they will attempt the longest indoor row of more than four days.

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Falstaff Dowling-Mitchell is going to be putting plasters on his nipples and Vaseline "in funny places" on the morning of January 15.

His mate Aaron Ellis is probably just going to take his dogs for a run and enjoy being outside.

It's preparation for a fundraiser which will involve five days on indoor rowing machines.

Their aim is to beat the record for longest continual row - four days and fourteen hours.

"We're both very determined people," Mr Dowling-Mitchell said.

"We will not stop until we're carried off the rower or faint or something."

Neither wants to look like a "muppet" or let the cause down.

Primary teacher Mr Dowling-Mitchell is rowing for Home of Hope, which helps Tanzania's poorest children get an education.

Bricklayer Aaron Ellis - who had three dogs in tow for the interview - chose Paw Justice, which works to reduce animal abuse.

The pair met while studying at the University of Waikato, and have a history of fundraising together.

In 2009 they climbed on children's bikes and cycled from Cape Reinga to Wellington to raise money for child cancer

Their latest challenge involves alternating two-hour shifts for five days of rowing on the ergometer.

"As long as it doesn't stop moving and someone's sitting on it, every minute counts," Mr Dowling-Mitchell said.

Official witnesses will be on hand, and their food and fluid intake will be monitored.

Family and friends will cheer them on - although they agree their mates will probably tease them by chilling out with a beer as they watch.

And spectators can pop in, but someone will be manning the door, Mr Dowling-Mitchell said.

"If I've fallen asleep for the first time in two days and I've only got an hour and a half to sleep and he [Aaron] is going delirious on the rower . . . they're just going to have to be told to wait outside."

The men have been training for eight months and started out aiming to beat a 2010 record for the fastest dual million metres.

They switched to plan B - the longest continual row - when they found the record had been smashed by 20 hours in November.

Both men have spent hours on the rowing machines loaned by Concept 2 - so many hours that they store mattresses and sleeping bags in a corner of the shed where they train.

And although Mr Ellis had to take time out for injuries, donated support from Les Mills got him back on the rower straight into his fastest ten kilometres.

The record attempt begins in the Te Totara Primary staffroom on January 15 at 9am.

To donate or find out more, visit facebook.com/millionmeterrow. libby.wilson@waikatotimes.co.nz

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- Waikato Times

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