Three hours in a row

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michael lawson rowing leeds

A rowing vice-captain has managed to row 50 kilometres inside the Union.

Mike Lawson completed the non-stop row in 3 hours and  43 minutes, eating and drinking without halting his strokes.

Lawson, a Geological Sciences student, began rowing two years ago when he started university.

As a member of Leeds University Union’s Boat Club, Michael is used to frequent one-hour rows. In order to prepare himself for the challenge, he gradually increased the length and distance of his rows over the past month. His longest row in training was two and a half hours.

Speaking to Leeds Student before the row started, Lawson said: “The 50km machine row will be a very hard challenge, mentally and physically. It will require lots of stamina and determination, especially as I am planning on not stopping.”

After the event, Lawson called the row “the single most painful thing I’ve ever done in my life. It was harder than the marathon or any rowing-related activity. It was very, very hard.”

The row is part of Mike’s wider mission to raise £5,000 for Cancer Research UK after the loss of his grandmother to lung cancer. To accomplish this he has been taking part in one “crazy/stupid/hard challenge every month” for a year. Other challenges have included the Pisa marathon in Italy and the infamous ‘Tough Mudder’ obstacle course.

If you’d like to support Michael, you can donate online at, or attend his pub quiz and raffle at The Library on March 7.

Words: Giovanni Da Costa

Photo: Leo Garbutt

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