They must have a lot of fun at Red Bull … constantly coming up with new challenges. This one resulted in 6 selected but ultimately shattered teams. As event organisers gleefully put it: “Red Bull XRow is the only rowing race where upturned boats play a role in winning!”
So what was it all about?
8-man teams tackling two lakes and three cross-country runs, in all 18 kilometres of rowing interspersed with 7 kilometres of running whilst shouldering their 100-kg boat… is this the world’s hardest and craziest rowing race? Bear in mind that the first stretch of rowing was 10 kms. Not so bad you might think, but Berlin Xpress team member Anton Kuzmenko can put you right on that. “Ten kilometres are the outer limits of what is tolerable for a rower. You simply can’t go on,” he said.
And from that first aching 10 kms the team members had to go straight up a steep mountainside – the Hohle Gasse, the beginning of a 4 km run to the next stretch of water.
This is not the inaugural event. The race was first held last year (2010) at which time Toby Garbett, England’s Olympian and two-time World Champion rower, said “Amazing event – I’d definitely come again – but very, very, very painful!” He duly pitched up again this year for further punishment. As did Marcel Hacker (World Champion/Olympic Bronze Medallist) and winner of the event last year. He was glad he knew what was coming. Before the race last year he had said “The cross-country segments that involve carrying the boat will be the toughest, but the whole event is just awesome.”
The race is held in Switzerland and connects the two towns of Zug and Lucerne crossing Lake Zug (Zugersee in German) and Lake Lucerne (or Vierwaldstättersee).
With skill and experience the senior German team took the lead, but they were unable to shake the juniors from their tail. Surprisingly the favourites and local heroes, ‘Switzerland Selection’, fell into last position after a minor collision. But they didn’t stay there for long, swiftly gaining lost ground before steaming into the lead and winning the race in 2 hrs 30 secs.
It was a close fought battle as the Frankfurt RG Germania (GER) Team took second place only 2 minutes behind the winners and they themselves were only just ahead of Seeclub Zurich (SUI).
I’m sure there will be teams queuing for selection next year! The official Red Bull site says:
Participation open to anyone with enough guts
At Red Bull XRow, recreational athletes line up against Olympic medalists. Prerequisite: 8 courageous rowers, a seaworthy 8-man boat and coxswain. Those who manage to make it across the finish line are certain to never be easily intimated by anything ever again.
Registration at: www.redbullxrow.ch