Oarsome Chris is UK’s million metre rower
A PhD student from The University of Manchester has travelled a million metres, just a few weeks before his sixtieth birthday in a global indoor rowing competition.
Chris Pomery, 59, rowed further than any other Brit in the challenge, one of only 22 rowers to beat the million metre mark out of nearly eight thousand taking part across the world.
The amazing feat took roughly 180,000 strokes and used up 55,000 calories in almost three hours rowing per day.
Over 7,500 rowers took part in the annual competition from countries as diverse as Qatar, the United States, France, Austria and Spain.
Called the Concept2 Virtual Team Challenge, around a fifth of the global online rowing community take part each year.
The researcher from Skipton, North Yorkshire, played hockey into his forties, but eventually stopped taking regular exercise.
But after starting from scratch a few years ago, he was well up to challenge of tackling the average 32km a day of the month-long January challenge.
“During the day I'm working on my PhD in the Manchester Institute of Education, looking at education policy and multi-academy trusts, but after my son is in bed I catch up the metres on a rowing machine,” he said.
“It’s been a tough ask to get the hours in: as well as being a solo parent, I also have a four-hour round trip to the university, so there aren't many university activities that I can really take part in.
“Indoor rowing, at my age at least, can inspire the younger rowers in Manchester University Boat Club to tackle these endurance events.”
During the day I'm working on my PhD in the Manchester Institute of Education, looking at education policy and multi-academy trusts, but after my son is in bed I catch up the metres on a rowing machine
According to the rower, a million metres is roughly 20 days' worth of normal calorie intake, so even eating more than usual he has managed to drop his weight by three kilos.
The challenge month is a great way of slimming down after the holiday period over Christmas, he said.
Chris, who has lectured on the issues facing ageing athletes and who runs the website FitAnd60.co.uk, took up indoor rowing after watching his older brothers face heart problems in their sixties.
He added: “Fortunately for me, my brothers are a lot older than I am, so I've had ample warning of what might be coming to get me if I sit back and do nothing.
“Physical fitness is the only variable I can change in a fundamental way, along with my diet, to improve my heart health and indoor rowing is a great all-body workout. Every gym has a machine or two tucked away in a corner ready for use.
“I didn't actually intend to do the Challenge this year, but once my son knew I'd started it I had to make the most of it. Maybe next year we can put a University of Manchester team together and do it for charity.”