STAGING Ardingly rowers celebrate 25th anniversary with training challenges - British Rowing

Ardingly rowers celebrate 25th anniversary with training challenges

This year is the 25th anniversary of Ardingly Rowing Club in West Sussex and members have been commemorating it in different ways during lockdown, as Di Binley relates


Claire and her family during the 25 anniversary challenge

It’s the 25th anniversary of the founding of Ardingly Rowing Club this year. So, we had a 25th anniversary fitness challenge throughout May with each member picking something they committed to doing 25 times in 25 days – of the 31 days in May, allowing up to six rest days.

It’s a bit strange to celebrate individually rather than together on the water now it’s regatta season, but we are all working hard to keep the club spirit going.


Our women’s captain cycled 25km for each of the 25 days – and had frequent headwinds! Another member, Carlos, did 25 x 25 flights of stairs, Ben climbed 2,500ft on the turbo in 25 different countries while Alison stuck to 25 minutes of yoga for 25 days. Plus, some people committed to 2,500m or 25 minutes on the ergo, while others ran for 25 minutes or did 25 x circuits and more.

It wasn’t monitored except by the individual – it was simply a commitment to ongoing fitness, a celebration of club spirit, with support available from other club mates for those days when we didn’t feel like doing it.

One family – Claire and her sons Thomas, Reuben and Toby – all entered into the challenge with gusto. Claire ran 5,000m a day with the family dog Forrest, who enjoyed stretching his legs too.

Our women’s captain cycled 25km for each of the 25 days – and had frequent headwinds!

The family is also doing the club circuits every weekend via Zoom as well as competing in the virtual Ergatta hosted by Bewl Bridge RC. The May Ergatta had a division for running 1km and club mates were not surprised that Claire rocked this in 3.41 – the fastest woman competing. The boys did their 1km on the erg, sent in their results, and then Reuben decided he could do better, so did it again and took six seconds off his time!

Our oldest active rower, Clay, completed 25 x 5km on the erg and finished with a personal best on 26 May. Meanwhile, Kay graduated from a learn to row course in October and has been on her bike for the challenge – often stopping to take the most wonderful photographs of the seaside to keep the rest of us happy as we suffer being locked-down inland.

Club captain, Pete, went a bit gung-ho with the challenge.

He says: “My pledge was to do a set of 25 sit-ups on day one, increasing by one set per day and doing whatever else I could fit in around work etc.

“Between each set of sit-ups I did 25 other exercises, e.g. press-ups, triceps dips, squats, one-legged squats, planks etc. I decided to do it all straight through, so 25 straight days, culminating on 25 May.”

I think the word ‘25’ has become a swear word for her

So, on Monday 25 May this meant that Pete did 25 x 25 sets of sit-ups = 625, plus a set of 25 other exercises in between each sit-up set, making a further 625 exercises. He also did 25km on the ergo, rating at 25spm and then a 25-mile bike ride!

He adds: “I think I must have burnt 2,500 calories today. I’m also doing 25 days without alcohol during May which finishes at the end of the month.

“I’m having a rest for a couple of days and eating dinner when my wife, Gina, wants to! I think the word ‘25’ has become a swear word for her.”

Overall, we’re all looking forward to getting back on the water, and hopeful that legs and lungs will have benefited from the 25th anniversary challenge, so the only hazard will be blade-handle blisters for scullers who haven’t been gardening!