Saturday: Hradiště 6km head race

Before My Race

We drove to Babice early in the morning, because our first task was to be at the start at 10am to collect shoes and bags of the kids who started at 10:30. Here are 2 pictures of the start area. It was dry but there was a cold north (tail) wind and it was just a few degrees above zero:

Start area in Siberia
Start area in Siberia
Panorama picture of Siberian Start area
Panorama picture of Siberian Start area

We briefly talked to our head coach, who just came out of the meeting. My biggest opponent, Mr Machacek, had canceled his participation because of illness. I was a bit disappointed, because I would have liked to race him, but illness is illness.

We collected shoes and bags, then drove the 10km (by car) to the finish area. There Romana and I hopped on our bikes and rode along the river to the 3km point, where we picked up some of the Juniors. We basically assisted the head coach shouting steering instructions and general remarks of encouragement to the kids.

Junior sculler
Junior sculler
Junior Pair
Junior Pair
Junior sculler
Junior sculler

There was a gap of about an hour, so Romana and I had time to go into the Moravia rowing club club house and had a warm lunch and hot tea. Great to be able to warm up a bit. In the mean time, it started to rain.

Around 2pm, the last junior had arrived. We loaded three singles on my trailer and drove them back to the start area.

Then I just sat in our club’s minivan and waited for my start time.

My Race

Being the 340th boat in this race, my start was scheduled at 4:45pm, only to be followed by the Women’s Masters. At 4pm, the last girls went on the water and the minivan drove off to the finish area, basically leaving me in the ice cold drizzle in my rowing clothes. I ran a few rounds to get warm, then I started to get the boat ready for an early launch and a few warming up rounds on the river.

We chatted a bit with the other Masters. Our main conclusion was that we were all crazy to do this. Pesat and Cernak teased me by saying they had hoped that I would be ill, because now I would be the certain winner. There was a new guy as well, a Mr Polasek. Apparently a former rower who had just returned to Masters rowing. Here is is World Rowing Bio:

There was also a rather old participant from Ukraine. I had already met him on my Friday training. He started a few minutes before me and I knew he was very slow.

We got ready to start. In the moment of concentration, I forgot to start the Garmin Forerunner, but I didn’t forget CrewNerd. Also, I had the good idea to remove the remove the “glass” from my glasses. It would have been hard to use the mirror through damp glasses full of raindrops.

Pesat started two minutes before me. There was a two minute gap between him and me, because Machacek cancelled. Cernak was one minute behind me, followed by Polasek another minute later.

Task was clear. Row away from Cernak and Polasek, close the gap with Pesat.

Go. I did a start sequence to get up to speed, then slowed down to 28/29spm and tried to keep that. I had a few moments when I dropped to 27spm but I decided to not force it back up to 29spm. I had the feeling I was rowing well, and forcing it in the beginning would have been a mistake.

Here is the summary from CrewNerd. I had defined a “course” in CrewNerd. I made it slightly shorter than the real course to avoid starting the timer while waiting for the start signal. I am surprised by the reported stroke rates. I had the feeling I was doing 27/28 most of the course, not 26spm. Also, I have only data for the 95% of the race part, not for the warming up or the cooling down.

|Dist_|Time_|Pace__|_SPM__|avg HR|max HR|DPS|Remarks
|00499|01:53|01:53.2| 27.5 | 170 | 178 |09.7|km 1
|00500|01:57|01:57.1| 26.7 | 175 | 176 |09.6|
|00500|02:04|02:03.9| 26.7 | 176 | 177 |09.1|km 2
|00498|01:59|01:59.4| 26.5 | 178 | 179 |09.5|
|00499|02:00|02:00.3| 26.6 | 179 | 180 |09.4|km 3
|00502|02:02|02:01.5| 26.5 | 179 | 180 |09.3|
|00501|02:03|02:02.8| 26.6 | 180 | 181 |09.2|km 4
|00498|02:01|02:01.4| 26.9 | 181 | 182 |09.2|
|00502|02:02|02:01.4| 27.0 | 181 | 182 |09.1|km 5
|00496|02:00|02:01.0| 27.0 | 182 | 183 |09.2|
|00498|02:03|02:03.4| 27.5 | 182 | 183 |08.9|km 6
|00264|01:03|01:59.1| 28.5 | 183 | 184 |08.8|

After 1.5km I passed the Ukranian guy. After 3km I noticed that Polasek had passed Cernak. Hm. I had the feeling Cernak was slower than I, but now I had to judge if this Mr Polasek was two minutes behind me or less. Staring at them I made the “beer brewery” turn a bit too wide. After that, I decided to ignore the guys behind me and just focus on my own rowing. There were too many turns to check, anyway. I could only see him on the straight bits.

I noticed I had forgotten to remove the head scarf worn as a shawl during the cold wait. I didn’t mind. I wasn’t cold any more, but it was still chilly.

Now I hoped Romana would have found time to drive to the 3km point and cheer me, but that didn’t happen, unfortunately. She had to spend time with her pupil, who I later heard had rowed well, but missed her start slot by 1:20 minutes.

Tailwind was nice and I was doing well until the end. I cranked up the stroke rate to 30 in the last 500m. I heard the bell when Pesat finished, and that was certainly less than 2 minutes before my finish time, because I was well past the 500m mark.


In my last 20 strokes I heard the commentator telling the public that Mr Roosendaal, “who was last year’s winner, had won the sprint races last week, and now he is back to head racing.” Great.

I finished. Put on warm clothes. Forgot to check the watch to check if there were more or less than two minutes between me and Mr Polasek. From the rowing club house balcony, Radek shouted at me that I had “probably” won. I decided to wait.

The information came when I was already on the dock. The speaker announced that the winner was … Mr Polasek. Roosendaal in second place, 6 seconds behind the winner.

I admit I was disappointed.

The Result
The Result. Ignore the 2km and 4km times. I think the kids measuring at the 2km and 4km marks were frozen by the time the Masters category passed

Afterwards, I think I should be happy with the result. The guy beat me by 6 seconds but he is two years younger than I and looks a lot stronger. That means I have kept up with him by rowing technique and good steering. I beat Cernak and Pesat by large margins. In the Open Men’s LightWeight 1x, I would have been 14th out of 20. In the heavyweights, 13th out of 19. The fastest woman was 15 seconds slower than I.

My time was 30 seconds slower than a year ago, but the river was much lower. I think the difference is due to less strong current.

Lessons for next year’s edition:

  1. Minibus parks in finish area, so rowers can enjoy the warm club lounge and its offering of tea, warm food etc before and after the race. Use small cars to shuttle batches of rowers to the start.
  2. Divide tasks between trainers: Cyclists whose only task is to cycle up and down the course and encourage crew, finish area guys who help rowers with boats and loading the trailers
  3. Have someone responsible for food

Anyway, season over. Let the winter preparation begin!

PS Here’s the main Czech TV report about the new tradition of Academic rowing races in Brno:

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