Competition vs. Rankings

From the CRASH-B's to an online challenge, discuss the competitive side of erging here.
KennyH
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Competition vs. Rankings

Post by KennyH » October 18th, 2017, 9:53 am

Looking at Concept2's rankings and previous years of CRASH results, it appears that there are a LOT more exceptional rowers nationwide than compete at CRASH. For example, in the Men's LW 50-59 age group, Concept2 lists over 75 rowers, including over 30 aged 55-59, who have rowed a sub-8 minute 2K this season already, and I'd assume there are a lot more who don't rank their times, don't belong to Concept2's website, or for whatever reason aren't ranked. Yet the 2016 CRASH-B Men's LW 55-59 event had only nine rowers row under 8 minutes. This begs a few questions:

1. Are these times legitimate?
2. If yes, is there a noticeable difference between regattas and workouts? (If anything, I'd think regattas would inspire personal bests, if only because of the excitement of reaching the national championship.)
3. Do many of these exceptional rowers just not make it to CRASH?
4. Is there something else I'm not considering?

This is my first year of rowing. I intend to enter some local competitions this winter, and I'm using CRASH/Virginia as a carrot to push me in my workouts. I'm curious about what expectations I should have based on my workouts. Thanks in advance for your time and thoughts.

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Re: Competition vs. Rankings

Post by hjs » October 18th, 2017, 10:30 am

There are lots of good rowers not in de rankings even. At all levels people do not rank. Over here we have a big race, 1300 people, those results are 99% not ranked.
The best ergers are often otw guys, who don,t race on the erg, and or don,t rank.

Most times in the ranks are ligit, not all though, there are mistakes etc.
Going to Boston for most ergers is simply to much hassle and or expensive.
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Re: Competition vs. Rankings

Post by bisqeet » October 18th, 2017, 10:38 am

You will find a lot of OTW rowers just use the machine to keep fit and don't regulary attend any competition.
They might rank some stuff for personal records, but in the long run . just don't bother.

Those that travel - enjoy the company at CRASHB - don't forget its a long way from New Zealand just to attend.
Its not as if you can win a truck load of doubloons there.

The only OTW rower I can think off offhand that competes regulary in the indoor circuit is Olena Buryek and she wipes the floor of any competition.
That saying her husband is no slouch either (Pavel Shumei)...

still not to put a dampner on your enthusiasm, but I wouldnt be at all suprised if more than a couple of the veteran lightweights rowed sub 7 and all under sub 8...
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Re: Competition vs. Rankings

Post by KennyH » October 18th, 2017, 12:08 pm

hjs wrote:There are lots of good rowers not in de rankings even. At all levels people do not rank. Over here we have a big race, 1300 people, those results are 99% not ranked.
The best ergers are often otw guys, who don,t race on the erg, and or don,t rank.
Most times in the ranks are ligit, not all though, there are mistakes etc.
Going to Boston for most ergers is simply to much hassle and or expensive.
I kinda thought some of your reasons, and they make sense. I didn't think of "OTW" guys, cuz I don't do that and don't see those people. Yet. I'm just learning about indoor rowing. I know there's a rowing club not too far from me, so if I enjoy rowing through the winter and want to explore more, I might look into it in the spring. TBH, I took up rowing in part because I was dealing with physical setbacks while cycling (I ride *a lot*; e.g., I rode 10,000 miles last year), and I appreciate how it works the whole body more than cycling. I've also found I like the simplicity of indoor rowing. I don't need a bike, special outfits, safety equipment (e.g., helmet), a course, survivable weather, etc. I just show up at my gym, sit down and go. Easy peasy.

(I also had an unfortunate accident requiring two surgeries and three months of bedrest, which is something that won't happen while rowing at the gym. That's a *huge* plus.)

Rowing OTW requires a lot more than that, of course, starting with the scull. Do you row OTW? Do you row with teammates or as a single rower? (Sculler?) Would you recommend OTW? Thanks again.
Last edited by KennyH on October 18th, 2017, 12:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Competition vs. Rankings

Post by KennyH » October 18th, 2017, 12:23 pm

bisqeet wrote:You will find a lot of OTW rowers just use the machine to keep fit and don't regulary attend any competition.
They might rank some stuff for personal records, but in the long run . just don't bother.
Those that travel - enjoy the company at CRASHB - don't forget its a long way from New Zealand just to attend.
Its not as if you can win a truck load of doubloons there.
Yes, I'm sure internationals, and even people from other parts of the US find it burdensome/expensive/whatever, so that makes sense. I live in NYC, and if I really think about it, I'd probably be less inclined to aim for, say, a championship in California or elsewhere.
bisqeet wrote:The only OTW rower I can think off offhand that competes regulary in the indoor circuit is Olena Buryek and she wipes the floor of any competition.
That saying her husband is no slouch either (Pavel Shumei)...
I have no knowledge of the OTW world (yet), so I'll have to look up these people. Thanks.
bisqeet wrote:still not to put a dampner on your enthusiasm, but I wouldnt be at all suprised if more than a couple of the veteran lightweights rowed sub 7 and all under sub 8...
Yes, definitely, there are certainly more than a few guys in my age group who have rowed sub-7s, which is well beyond my abilities. (My best so far is 7:35, although I'm just learning, so I'm sure I have more in me.) I have no preconception about winning anything. I'm a newbie. I'm just trying to understand what I'm getting into. Thanks for your thoughts.

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Re: Competition vs. Rankings

Post by Edward4492 » October 18th, 2017, 12:34 pm

I'll jump in here, as a fairly serious erger (10 million meters since October of 2013) and a second year OTW sculler and a former bike racer my perspective should help. I morphed away from bike racing primarily due to injury. Lots of broken bones. My ex-club had a horrible year; two deaths and two racers paralyzed (one waist down, one neck down). All of these were incurred on hard group rides and one in a race. I got into erging from crossfit and can tell you that sub eight minutes is meaningless at the top level of competition. I did CRASH B's four times as a 57-60 yr old LWT and posted 3rd, 8th, 5th, and 5th with times of 7:13, 7:06, 7:11, and 7:17. Personal best of 6:59.1. In 2015 I had my best CB time of 7:06 and finished 8th of 19. Everybody else was sub 7min. If you're looking to be competitive that's where you need to be. Ignore rankings outside the top ten, it's not relevant how many people are under 8min IF your goal is to be competitive.

None of this is meant to disparage those that are pulling slower times; but the question seemed to revolve around where does one need to be to compete. And that's reality. To put it in perspective, the 60+ LWT marathon record is at around a 1:59 pace. The pool of serious ergers is not real vast; but the deep end is very deep!

As for OTW rowing and sculling? Nothing like it! I absolutely love it, have been rowing six days a week from April to November for the past two years. It is the most challenging and rewarding sport I have ever been involved in. Over 2 million meters, mostly single shell (1x) and some time in a double and I feel like I'm just starting to get it. Masters racing is stacked with incredibly experienced, fast, and talented people. Very safe sport too; just have to be aware of water temps and use common sense. And the racing is a blast. If you have a chance to do it...do it!

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Re: Competition vs. Rankings

Post by Cyclist2 » October 18th, 2017, 12:47 pm

Ed and I are reverse clones - I got into bike racing after I did years of rowing but got out after a few bad crashes and now do indoor rowing. If my circumstances were right, I'd be rowing OTW, no question. It's the best!

What he says is completely true and well stated. I have no more to add....
Mark Underwood. Rower first, cyclist too.

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Re: Competition vs. Rankings

Post by KennyH » October 18th, 2017, 3:54 pm

Edward4492 wrote:I'll jump in here, as a fairly serious erger (10 million meters since October of 2013) and a second year OTW sculler and a former bike racer my perspective should help. I morphed away from bike racing primarily due to injury. Lots of broken bones. My ex-club had a horrible year; two deaths and two racers paralyzed (one waist down, one neck down). All of these were incurred on hard group rides and one in a race...
I'm so sorry for your club mates. That sounds beyond awful. I can relate somewhat: I was a bike messenger in the 1980s, and I quit when a couple co-workers were killed. Didn't want to tempt the fates, if you know what I mean. I suffered the dumbest accident in 2014 (pothole) that required two operations and sidelined me for months, and it made me rethink cycling as my one and only.
Edward4492 wrote:...I got into erging from crossfit and can tell you that sub eight minutes is meaningless at the top level of competition. I did CRASH B's four times as a 57-60 yr old LWT and posted 3rd, 8th, 5th, and 5th with times of 7:13, 7:06, 7:11, and 7:17. Personal best of 6:59.1. In 2015 I had my best CB time of 7:06 and finished 8th of 19. Everybody else was sub 7min. If you're looking to be competitive that's where you need to be. Ignore rankings outside the top ten, it's not relevant how many people are under 8min IF your goal is to be competitive...
I only used 8 minutes as a barometer to explain my point. I have no idea what my potential is. I only started this past summer. Mastering something takes time and effort (and hopefully some helpful genetics), and I am nothing if not a patient student. If I get down to 7 minutes, great! If I don't, no harm, no foul. I y'am what I y'am. ... But I'd like to see what I could be. ;)
Edward4492 wrote:As for OTW rowing and sculling? Nothing like it! I absolutely love it, have been rowing six days a week from April to November for the past two years. It is the most challenging and rewarding sport I have ever been involved in. Over 2 million meters, mostly single shell (1x) and some time in a double and I feel like I'm just starting to get it. Masters racing is stacked with incredibly experienced, fast, and talented people. Very safe sport too; just have to be aware of water temps and use common sense. And the racing is a blast. If you have a chance to do it...do it!
Cool! I'm more of a soloist myself, so I might be interested in single shell. Let me get through the winter intact, and I'll check out the local clubs next spring.

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Re: Competition vs. Rankings

Post by KennyH » October 18th, 2017, 3:58 pm

Cyclist2 wrote:Ed and I are reverse clones - I got into bike racing after I did years of rowing but got out after a few bad crashes and now do indoor rowing. If my circumstances were right, I'd be rowing OTW, no question. It's the best!
What he says is completely true and well stated. I have no more to add....
Cool. I too am having second thoughts about cycling due to crashes. I truly like indoor rowing, but after listening to you guys, I have to check out OTW. Thanks!

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Re: Competition vs. Rankings

Post by Edward4492 » October 18th, 2017, 7:57 pm

Kenny, to elaborate further; you are on a very similar trajectory to mine. I got down in the 7:30+ range after 3-6 months and hung there for awhile. The big break through came when I started logging big meters (70k to 90k weeks, up to 100k). I got down to 7:15 pretty quickly. Breaking 7min is a great goal for guys at our age and LWT. I only did it once. If you want to know specifics, along with my other work twice a week I was doing 20r/200w /2min pace sessions; I peaked at 60min, 15k+ at 20r and 1:59 pace. it may have been the hardest erg session I ever did. Two weeks later with some speed work I pulled 6:59.1. And that was the one and only time I saw -7:00. Currently I believe I'm in the 7:15-20 range. Which is not a bad place to be.

OTW is really situational. My situation is perfect. I work 5min from one of the best venues in the country; Cooper River in Camden NJ. 15min from there is world famous Boathouse Row on the Schuylkill. Still not enough? The Olympic training center in Princeton is 30min north. Next to Boston, this is a major hub of USA rowing and racing. My club (Cooper Rowing) is a masters racing club, we have access to two dozen or so boats. Jamie Stack who runs the boathouse and has his own wildly successful team (South Jersey Rowing Club; for high schoolers) trailers our boats to the races. I have a single stored that I can get on the water in 10min. I mean, really; if I wrote the script myself
I could not possible be positioned any better for rowing and racing.

If your OTW situation looks tenable, then go for it. It's incredibly fun, but will demand a serious time investment to get good at (I'll let ya know when I make it).

Meantime, the erg is the ultimate in convenience. It too will reward time and meters; you'll get faster. And fitter. And that's a good thing.

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Re: Competition vs. Rankings

Post by KennyH » October 19th, 2017, 10:24 am

You're a pretty good salesman. :D I'll start to investigate local OTW possibilities. I have a couple very close options: Row New York and the Harlem River Community Rowing are only a few miles from my home. Until, then, however, I agree with your final statement that...
Edward4492 wrote:...the erg is the ultimate in convenience. It too will reward time and meters; you'll get faster. And fitter. And that's a good thing.
:)

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Re: Competition vs. Rankings

Post by Remo » October 21st, 2017, 4:39 pm

To answer your questions

1. Are these times legitimate?

Mostly yes. Anything that listed under the Verified column of the C2 Rankings as either "Yes" or "Race" is absolutely legit. And most of the other stuff, unless it look odd (in which case it is likely a mistake), is most likely legit

2. If yes, is there a noticeable difference between regattas and workouts? (If anything, I'd think regattas would inspire personal bests, if only because of the excitement of reaching the national championship.)

Personally, it doesn't really matter much: My performance at an all out solitary time trial workout will be about the same as if I were in a race. However, if I went out too hard and am suffering from severe lactate poisoning, I would be more likely to ease up and not finish the workout as compared with a race. Notwithstanding I have some caveats: (a) The excitement of a national championship might make you go out to hard and actually have a lesser performance; (b) The 2k is a really hard distance. It demands that you get 100% out of both your anaerobic and aerobic systems. A little crowd noise in the last 200m will help.

3. Do many of these exceptional rowers just not make it to CRASH?

Yep.

CRASH-Bs has always be a winter training diversion for on the water rowers.

Most of the rowers at CRASH-B are locals, i.e. within a one-day trip by car to the event. And most of the locals comprises high school and collegiate athletes.

You can win a trip to the CRASH-Bs by performing well at a regional regatta. The time standard to beat is the average 3rd place finish over the past six (6) years for your category. This is a pretty high standard.

The remainder of the racers consist of either non-locals who believe that they have a legit chance of winning and did not compete in a regional regatta or those who want to go to experience the CRASH-Bs.

There will always be a lot of good rowers who don't go.


4. Is there something else I'm not considering?

Comparing Apples and Apples, there were only 56 USA lightweight men ages 55-59 who submit times for the 2k to the Concept2 ranking for the 2015 -2016 Erging year (this is the time period for the 2016 CRASH-Bs) of which 30 bested 8:00. In other words the pond is pretty small and 8:00 is not a great time. That said, the 5 top men at CRASH-B all ranked in the top 7 for the USA lightweights age 55-59 in the Concept2 rankings. In other words, the best ergers in the USA actually went to CRASH-B.

I will express an opinion, I've been around rowing for many years and the 5 top men at the CRASH-Bs in 2016 are all really fast for their age and weight category. The other 5 who showed, not so.
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Re: Competition vs. Rankings

Post by Carl Watts » October 21st, 2017, 9:39 pm

Really its too expensive to travel just to get on an indoor rower.

Don't get me wrong I love the Concept 2 rower, but there is no way I would get on a plane to attend an indoor rowing competition and this is in part because it can now be all done online with RowPro without leaving home.

Sure the results will not be as legit as attending a race venue, anyone with in depth knowledge on how the rower and monitor works can fake the results but taken to the limit its always possible to cheat anyway, just take drugs.
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Re: Competition vs. Rankings

Post by NavigationHazard » October 22nd, 2017, 10:02 am

Occasionally the big open-class OTW men and women come out to play at public competitions.

The poster example is the 2000 Crash-B championships in Boston, where the US Men's squad showed up in full. They had heats and a final in those days. A rather astonishing 39 different rowers (if I've counted correctly) went sub-6 minutes, with the great Rob Waddell winning the final in 5:40.2 after a 5:52.8 to warm up in the heats. There were 20 sub-7:00 scores from the women the same morning.

See http://www.crash-b.org/wp-content/uploa ... ent01.html

I would add that with Cross-Fit participation growing worldwide by leaps and bounds, it's logical to think that the overall number of people attending competitions is likely to grow considerably in coming years.
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Re: Competition vs. Rankings

Post by KennyH » October 23rd, 2017, 12:49 pm

Remo wrote:Personally, it doesn't really matter much: My performance at an all out solitary time trial workout will be about the same as if I were in a race. However, if I went out too hard and am suffering from severe lactate poisoning, I would be more likely to ease up and not finish the workout as compared with a race. Notwithstanding I have some caveats: (a) The excitement of a national championship might make you go out to hard and actually have a lesser performance
That’s a concern. I “blow up” from going out too fast at times. If I get some races under my belt and practice competitive starts, I hope to get a better handle on that aspect.
Remo wrote:CRASH-Bs has always be a winter training diversion for on the water rowers.
I’ve got a pretty good aerobic base from crazy miles of cycling, but I’ve got a loooong way to go to develop my anaerobic abilities. Ironically, I was a sprinter and quick-twitch athlete as a kid, but after numerous setbacks in speed events, I settled into the slow-twitch life of marathoning and even ultramarathoning. When I discovered randonneuring (ultradistance cycling), it was like I found nirvana. Rowing’s mix of anaerobic and aerobic is a blast from the past, but I assume it’s gonna take me at least a couple/few years to "get it," if you know what I mean.
Remo wrote:You can win a trip to the CRASH-Bs by performing well at a regional regatta. The time standard to beat is the average 3rd place finish over the past six (6) years for your category. This is a pretty high standard.
That’s not happening (for me) anytime soon. :D
Remo wrote:In other words, the best ergers in the USA actually went to CRASH-B...I will express an opinion, I've been around rowing for many years and the 5 top men at the CRASH-Bs in 2016 are all really fast for their age and weight category. The other 5 who showed, not so.
Cool. I may venture there or Virginia (or both – Amtrak is easy for me, and I like visiting both Boston and DC), if only to see the best of the best and learn whatever there is to learn. Thanks!

P.S. I’m impressed and inspired by your decade bests over the years. Your times give me tremendous encouragement!

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