10 Jul 2015

High seas endurance challenge for novice rowers

 Alistair Flowers

This July two hardy teams of amateur rowers will race non-stop across the Mediterranean Sea to raise funds and awareness for the HPV & Anal Cancer Foundation.

The teams are battling it out as part of the charity’s NOMAN Campaign, which raises awareness of Human Papillomavirus (HPV), a carcinogenic virus which causes five per cent of cancers worldwide.

It can be prevented through vaccination at age 12 which is currently offered to girls in the UK. The campaign is hoping to extend this to boys who are equally at risk from HPV-related cancer and disease.

5,880 Big Bens

Two identical 7ft ocean rowing boats will traverse the 200 miles between Barcelona and Ibiza, travelling the equivalent of 24,920 London buses, 5,880 Big Bens or 5,600 swimming pools.

The boats have no sails or engines, and are moved entirely by the crew's 3-5 person muscle-power.

The endurance challenge should take between 72 to 96 hours to complete, meaning the teams have to row for two to four hours straight each day, whatever the weather.

Meet Alistair Flowers

Getting to experience the ocean in all its beauty is first time rower and experienced marathon runner, 31 year old Alistair Flowers from Hertfordshire.

“People think I’m slightly crazy but it’s an oar-some undertaking and for a great cause,” says Alistair.

“I’m most looking forward to seeing the stars at night and the silence of the open water, but I’m not hugely excited about going to the toilet in a confined space in the company of people I barely know!”

Physical and mental challenge

Not only will the teams be tested to their mental limits they will almost certainly face blisters, saddle sores and aching muscles.

Undeterred, Alistair has spent the last few months following an intensive training plan and has also completed courses in sea survival and learning how to correctly use a VHF radio.

“Doing four ultra-marathons has taught me how far my limits will reach but I’m still looking for the boundary of my endurance capacity – maybe this row will push me to my limit.”

David Winterflood, finance and communications manager of The HPV and Anal Cancer Foundation, says:

“We're incredibly grateful to Alistair and his fellow crew-mates for their dedication.

“NOMAN is an Island is our motto and together we can work to protect the next generation from this entirely preventable virus and the cancers it causes, some which are highly stigmatised due to their location such as anal cancer."

A great portal

Alistair hopes to raise £5,000 with MyDonate and is well on his way to achieving his target.

“MyDonate has been a great portal for me – 100 per cent of my donation goes to the charity and to helping end five per cent of cancers. Ultimately that's what it's all about.”

This year’s race follows the success of the inaugural event in 2013 which raised over £1 million.

We’ll keep you posted with regular updates on Alistair’s epic journey over at our MyDonate Facebook page.

You can keep Alastair afloat by giving to the NOMAN challenge at MyDonate

Learn more about the HPV & Anal Cancer Foundation’s NOMAN campaign and follow their progress @nomancampaign on Twitter and Instagram.





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