Let us introduce you to Stan Brierley, a member of North Shore YMCA. Stan is the current holder of the New Zealand Million Meter Club record of an amazing 42 million metres! Stan completed this record on 31st May 2010.
This is a particular milestone for Stan as he has finally completed an epic journey of rowing round the world on a Concept2 rowing machine. This was a personal challenge Stan set for himself, which started back on 10th April 2000.
For the record, converting the hours Stan rowed to days, means that if rowing for 24 hours continuously the number of days would amount to 233 which is quite a feat!
Another interesting factor is the amount of calories used, based on an average of 50 calories per kilometre, the total is two million, one hundred thousand calories!
When we asked Stan what kept him motivated during his epic ‘adventure’ he said: ”My main aim is to keep my body operational and maintain a decent level of fitness and by undertaking this row around the world, it ensures that I will be active for at another least eleven or twelve years.”
He went on: “There are many things in life that cause you to vary a goal and one of these came after I was recovering from a heart by-pass operation with post operational problems. As I was a formerly fit person, into running great distances, triathlons, harbour swims and Ironman events, it meant that I had to think about what I could do to recuperate. So I decided to join a gym and work my way back to physical health.
“I commenced with rehabilitation classes and stuck at them for some time but felt I was not making any progress, still feeling unwell with frequent hospital visits. So I decided to try the gym circuit training and during one of these sessions I was introduced to the Concept 2 rowing machine.”
Stan started out by doing 600m and found it hard going but got back on a few times and became hooked! “I slowly increased my distances and eventually reached 4 kilometres and at that time I was encouraged by the gym to have a go at 5,000m non-stop.” Stan was soon able to get through both 5km and 10km without stopping.
When Stan started indoor rowing, he had a shoulder problem that doctors had worked on for some time and despite X-rays, cortisone injections and exercises it didn’t get better and the pain was waking him up at night. Stan continues “however, as soon as I started rowing, instead of aggravating it, the problem soon disappeared. So I decided that rowing was going to replace my running, swimming and other sports and was soon clocking up 10km almost daily.
Over time I worked my way up to doing a half marathon, then a full marathon and then decided since I had run around the world, I would do the same on the rowing machine.”
When Stan ran around the world he worked from the distance via the equator which is 38,898km. Averaging 10km a day it took him 11years and nine months to complete that journey.
Since Stan decided that health was a lifestyle, he decided to undertake the mission of rowing around the world which meant calculating a sea route from New Zealand to Australia, across the Indian Ocean, to the Red Sea, across the Mediterranean, Atlantic, through the Panama canal and finally back home.
He worked this out to be 42,000 kilometres and Stan set off on his daunting journey on the 10th April 2000 which would take just over a decade to complete.
Stan was clocking up the miles and soon did marathons, ultra marathons and a 100 kilometre row which he completed in 10 hours 37mins which was only 2 minutes slower than a 100km run which confirmed to him that running and rowing were similar when it came to effort and time. He then completed the distance again and shaved 42 minutes off his time setting a world record for his age group!
Stan entered all of his work outs into his rowing log and was amazed to see how his progress was accumulating, his weight had stabilised and it was great to see the calories used. Stan comments “these were excellent motivational tools! But by this time I had decided to slow my rowing down to a steady 7 minutes per kilometre and in my mind this was equivalent to the jogging distances that I used to do when I was out on the road. I was aware of the fact that the distance from St Heliers Bay to Rangitoto was 4.5k and made it a daily target to row to Rangitoto and back across the Auckland Harbour.”
Stan arrived at Melbourne in June 2001 after crossing the Tasman and then took a year to arrive in Perth. Crossing the Indian Ocean diagonally came next – a rather daunting distance of 8,029 km’s! “By the 26th October 2005 I was going through the Straits of Gibraltar and then into the Atlantic. I had clocked up 23,043 k’s and was over halfway through my journey.
The Atlantic seemed formidable as I believe the sea can be quite treacherous and in theory there is a lot of shipping crossing so mentally there was this to contend with. It’s an attitude thing with rowing, the same as a lone runner, you act within yourself and you frequently play mental games while on each journey. Each session is an achievement in itself and of course, entering details in the log becomes thrilling as progress is made!
There are now many rowers at the North Shore YMCA who have completed 1 million metres and many who have completed much more! Each of these rowers has improved their wellbeing and health! Their companionship and encouragement in this field is incredible!”
Stan wonders if it had not been for the rowing machine where would they be now!!!