People row ultra-distances for various reasons. Sometimes it’s a personal goal, just to see if they have what it takes, or their teammates goad them into it and they succumb to the pressure. Other times, it’s good training for rowing across the ocean, or it’s just because there is a record to be broken. Matthew Rockett, however, a 28-year-old from Sheffield, England, set an ultra-distance world record on February 12 (Individual Longest Continual Row in 64 hours), and successfully raised money for Sport Relief 2012 and the family of his late friend and ultra-distance rower Roberta Dikeman.
Roberta Dikeman of Dublin, California, touched many people in the indoor rowing world before she passed away unexpectedly on February 7 at the age of 45 from a stroke. She was young and vibrant and passionately grabbed the reins of indoor rowing, joining the “Ducks In a Row” virtual rowing team, rowing almost 11 million meters and courageously breaking two ultra-distance world records in the process.
Says Matthew Rockett:
“I first got to know Roberta through the rowers group on Facebook when I began my first world record attempt. I got an invitation to the group so they could offer me support while I was doing it. I made a lot of friends through that group. Roberta was very supportive of my record attempts and always offered a lot of encouragement to me.”
“The donations for Roberta’s family were organized by a member of the group on Facebook while I was rowing. Personally, I don’t like asking people to donate money or putting them in a situation where they feel they have to give something. However, I was quite happy for people to offer to donate money depending on how long I rowed. During my hourly breaks from rowing, I was reading the updates on Facebook. I’m not sure some people realized, though, how long I would row. One person donated £2 for every hour I completed; another person donated €1 for every hour up until the existing 45-hour record and then €5 per hour after that.”
The indoor rowing community is an amazing network of people from all over the world. Far from being solitary rowers in basements and garages, many indoor rowers are part of something much larger—a thick, rich web of global friendships brought together by Facebook, the Concept2 Online Logbook and Training Forum. Getting to know each other online, they motivate each other to higher goals, encourage new rowers to join in their camaraderie and share in triumphs as well as losses.