In light of the recent passing of Robin Williams, Q-Power's Paul Buchanan embarked on a campaign to try to raise as much money as possible for the Samaritans in Ireland (where Paul is based) and in the UK.
Paul has been heavily involved in the curious world of indoor rowing since 2011 and by his 40th birthday he had set 39 national records (Ireland) and 2 world records. Indoor rowing categorises events with regard to age, and during this time Paul has fallen within the 30-39 age group. On Friday 22nd August 2014 he turned 40.
There are 10 recognised standard event records, starting at 500m and working up to the marathon (42,195m). Concept2 recognises suitably evidenced rows for 9 of those events, with records for 2,000m having to be set at Concept2 sanctioned races.
However rather than seek to take the records one by one, on Saturday 23rd August Paul celebrated his birthday by trying to set 9 new records... in one day (well, in 24 hours between 09:00 on the 23rd and 08:59 on the 24th).
On 17th May 2014 Paul had set a new world record over 100km at a 1:51.8/500m pace. The "Trying To Stay Strong" event presented other challenges, however, since time spent at faster paces would cause disproportionately more fatigue. The cause was not assisted by the sudden realisation a few days before the event that we had not got around to establishing an inaugural Irish M30-39 record over 6,000m. With Paul about to leave the 30-39 category, and keen to set a benchmark that might stand for at least a short while, an impromptu time trial 3 days before the multiple record attempt was perhaps not classic preparation.
Paul said a few days before his 9 record attempt: "...individually these rows are within my capability - but when you stack them all up they become a little more daunting and that is very much how depression can set in - small changes in life together adding to bring you down."
With a Just Giving page established to receive donations, we were extremely grateful for the Twitter/Facebook support from five Olympic gold medalists (Pete Reed, Alex Gregory, Greg Searle, Eric Murray and Hamish Bond). The event appeared on Facebook (Trying to Stay Strong) and on Twitter (#TTSS).
The weekend proved to be a significant challenge. A pacing mishap on the 500m resulted in a time that was 0.1s slow so that the piece had to be done again, and towards the end of the day the 1 hour proved to be too much, meaning 10km of hard work had to be thrown away. However with 8 of the 9 records successfully completely on the 23rd August, it was possible to squeeze the last one, the 1 hour, into the early morning of 24th August and get them all completed within 24 hours.
You can read Paul's account of his efforts here. A rather entertaining alternative perspective, written by Adam Mell, can be found here.
The records had previously stood as follows (with the required 500m split time provided in brackets), and the new record set by Paul appearing thereafter.
Many people with mental health difficulties suffer in silence. Members of the rowing community were generous with their donations and we raised more than three times our target for the Samaritans. If you would like to make a donation, you can still do sohere.