Students walking through Mac-Ewan Student Centre last week were treated to a rare sight. Approximately 15 members of the University of Calgary Rowing Club participated in the annual 24-Hour Ergathon in hopes of raising funds for their team. The rowers accepted the challenge put to them by their coach, Blair Carey, and kept two rowing machines (otherwise known as ergometers) constantly moving all through the night, starting at 4 p.m. Thursday and going until 4 p.m. the following day.
The rowers took shifts that ranged anywhere from 30-90 minutes in duration and many of the athletes had individual totals of over five hours on the machine. Bryan Chung, a first-year rower with the U of C was one of those who took several turns on the ergs.
"The first two and a half hours it was really good," said Chung, "[But I was] probably delirious by about three in the morning."
What compelled the crew members to spend an entire day working out in the MSC food court? Well, the prospect of new equipment for one thing. To date they have collected over $1,000 in pledges and by the time all the cash trickles in they hope to have another $200-$300, enough to buy a new erg for winter training or to put towards a boat come spring.
"Basically, the rowing team members decide what the money will be spent on," said Chung.
The team can use all the money they can get, as rowing is an expensive sport. Each rowing machine costs approximately $1,000 and a pair of oars alone can run up to $500. Factor in the cost of travelling to competitions and it suddenly becomes clear why rowing was a sport reserved for the Ivy League up until a short while ago.
Although the Ergathon was physically demanding there is no denying it raised money and awareness for the team.
"[It was] a bit of a novelty," said Chung when asked what he perceived to be students' reactions to the event.
Passerby Jarrett Leinweber found it "impressive to see [while] walking to my 8 a.m. class" and could not believe the athletes had been at it all night.
Others were inspired by the dedication and strength of the team.
"I thought it was cool," said U of C student Tara Collins. "I wanted to do something like it."