Some of the 100K finishers. Also on this list: Brian Dieffenderfer and Diana Rich


The 2014 Holiday Row Challenge has officially come to an end and I couldn’t be more proud of our dedicated participants this year.  We did our CrossFit St. Louis holiday challenge concurrently with Concept 2’s Holiday Row challenge and the goal was to row 100K from Thanksgiving until Christmas Eve.  To accomplish this, one would have to row, on average, 3,572 meters a day for 28 days.  Or you could be Jim Arsenault who achieved his 100K goal in 50 hours.  He was a beast this year and was our top meterist, finishing with an amazing 400,227K for the month.  That, my friends, entails an average of 14,294 meters A DAY!!!  But if you know Jim, you know that he set his sights on a goal this year and diligently worked hard to surpass the 100K meter mark.  While Jim has an erg at home, he made it a point to “legitimately” get his meters at the gym.  This involved him coming early and staying late before class and after class.  Jim was also a regular participant of the Row Challenge Classes that we added to the schedule during the holidays to help insure people had ample chances to get their meters in.  Each class focused on technique and efficiency, but with a specific plan for the hour which included stroke rate work, rowing at different damper settings, short and long intervals, and breath work.  It was a fun class to teach and I think we were all surprised with how many meters we were able to get at the end of the hour.

I was impressed with all our participants this year and the grit and dedication members showed during the challenge.  There were some who knew they might not make it to 100K, but wanted to see how far they could go anyway.  To that I said, “The more the merrier!”  As you can tell by the meter board, we had a number of athletes throw their hats into the ring to give this thing a try, many of whom surpassed the 50K mark and beyond.

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I want to give a special shout out to those who completed their 100K goal.  This group includes:  Jim Arsenault, (top finisher by a LANDSLIDE), Leeny Hoffmann, Jenna Boff, Nicole Kaupp, Ray Steitz, Brian Dieffenderfer, Shannon McGuire, Nathalie Mackie, Stephanie Dacey and Diana Rich.  These individuals not only made it a point to attend the FREE rowing classes added to the schedule, but they also came in early to class or stayed after to get their meters in.  There were many times where it would have been easy to just throw in the towel and say, “There’s no way I’ll get to 100K” but these guys gutted it out until the end.  I was happy to be on this journey with you and as a rowing coach, I have to say, I have “proud mouth”.  Wait, you don’t know what proud mouth is?  It’s that mouth you get when you’re trying to act humble about something, and you are really trying to hold back a smile and you just end up with a contorted, half smile, half straight line mouth.  Proud Mouth.

After it’s all said and done, I think many of us walked away with a new appreciation for rowing and our abilities on the erg.  What used to seem impossible became easy.  Pieces that seemed so hard before became doable.  Using the monitor, being consistent with pacing and stroke rating and just relaxing and using all your senses on the erg turns the mundane into something fun and challenging.  And isn’t that what this was all about?


Jim Arsenault getting after it. He was the winner of the 2014 Holiday Row Challenge.


Leeny Hoffmann, Concept 2 Certified Rowing Coach


Jenna Boff


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Nicole Kaupp


Ray Steitz


Brian Dieffenderfer



Nathalie Mackie

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Shannon McGuire


Diana Rich


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Stephanie Dacey


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And finally, for your viewing pleasure, our Monday Morning Crew rowing in sync.  This has become so easy for this group as they are really “getting” what it means to hold a certain stroke rate.  If I say 24, they got it.  If I ask them to jump to 30, within a couple of strokes, they are all together like a marching band.  The Row Challenge class attendees were no different.  I was always impressed with their willingness to learn and how quickly they all caught on.  Way to go!