The support act turned out to be the star as a world record was smashed in Westergate this morning.
Sandy Clarke, 76, claimed the Endurance Concept Concept2 world record for a 24-hour indoor rowing, in the 70 to 79 age group for females.
She passed the 132,578-metre target at 4am but had to complete the full 24 hours for the record to count, so continued to the 9am finish. Her final total was 166,333 metres.
“I’m knackered,” she said at the finish.
Sandy was supporting Aldinbourne parish councillor Tom Blaylock, who was hoping to beat the world record for his age group but fell ill part way through.
Tom, 63, battled on and completed 188, 394 metres in 24 hours but fell well short of his 252,028-metre target.
“I’m disappointed but you live and learn,” he said.
The whole event at Six Villages Sports Centre was organised by fellow gym member Julie Taylor to raise money for The Nelson Trust, a charity that has supported her daugher Flo as she battled addiction 18 months ago. She has now just celebrated her 21st birthday, has been clean for 18 months.
Julie said: “Sandy has done amazingly well. She was the support act. She was really tired as we got to the last hour or so but she was determined to do it. Sandy had two-minute toilet breaks and 30-second stretch stops but that is all.
“Tom went down with a tummy bug during the night. He has done the 24 hours but he wasn’t able to make the record. He was really quite ill. I don’t know how he has done it but he has done it for Sandy. It started five hours into the row. It has been sad for him.
“We have raised around £3,000. What Tom has done is bring us all at the gym together.
“I went and rowed three half-hour stints and I haven’t rowed for 50 years. It is nothing to what Tom has done. People have given their all to support us and the gym has been marvellous, providing a rep all through the night. It has been amazing.”
Tom and Sandy had been training for the world record attempt for ten months and started together at 9am yesterday.
Sandy has always done long-distance rowing in the gym and has been attending three times a week for 17 years.
Tom, who celebrates his birthday today, is an ultra-distance runner but often rows with Sandy in the gym.
Sandy said: “I told him I would see how far I can go and ended up doing the full 24 hours. I had no choice.”
Julie presented the pair with chocolate gifts and gave Tom a special birthday cake, decorated with sugar models of them rowing. Baps and Buns in Barnham kindly donated breakfast of bacon rolls and orange juice for everyone.
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