Breaking the World Record: A Million Meters in 12 days

Breaking the World Record: A Million Meters in 12 days

by Ruby Lyon

Earlier this year Manhattan varsity rower, Vaughn Parker, was scrolling through Concept 2’s page of records. He saw the usual breathtakingly fast 2k scores, but as he kept looking he came across a page dedicated to ultra distance records. It was here he first saw the Million Meter row. At the time, no one had attempted the record in the Male 19 and Under Lightweight category. He saw an opportunity.

The world record is 4 days, 23 hours, and 50 minutes and held by Adrian Abrahams (40-49 year old category). Abrahams, an accomplished rower, is known for rowing across the Atlantic ocean during the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge. Vaughn knew that if it was possible for a 40-49 year old, then something somewhat close to that was possible for him.

“I emailed Concept 2 in March and asked them the specifics. With most events, like a 2k, you can’t get off the erg in the middle of a 2k, but for this, obviously no one can row for 120 hours straight. You have to get off and eat, shower, and sleep. Concept 2 explained that the clock kept going, even when you got off the erg.”

After months of prepping, Vaughn took to the erg in August, 2017. Altogether he would end up rowing around 120 hours over 12 days, 2 hours, and 4 minutes. He would take breaks every 13 minutes over 2500 meters, ultimately rowing 6-9 hours a day. For 12 days straight Vaughn rowed anywhere from 70 to 90k.

“Rowing on the night of day 2 and day 3 were especially brutal as my body adapted. The morning of day 3 my dad checked Concept 2 and there was a new record for under 19. And I got really scared for a moment. But it was 101 days which I knew was definitely breakable. From March when I first started looking into this until August 28 there was nothing on there. And then boom, on August 28 there was a record. I beat that record by a lot.”

Over the almost 2-week period Vaughn kept himself engaged with a Youtube live channel where friends and family would leave comments and questions, cheering him on. But as anyone can imagine, a feat like the Million Meter is incredibly mentally taxing. “Every day a new part of my body started to hurt. Not really hurt, but irritating. So everyday I would make a list in my head about the body parts that were hurting me, and on day 6 it was just my mind… it was mentally difficult.”

By the time Vaughn finished the Million Meter challenge he not only set a world record in the Male 19 and Under Lightweight category, he also raised close to $6,000 for Row New York on his GoFundMe page. “I was definitely doing it (Million Meter) for the world record, but I thought that you know, Row New York has given a lot to me over these past 2 years and I felt I should give back in some sort of way. It wasn’t the original reason why I did it, and I really love that I did.”

When we asked what would be next for him, if any new records were in his future, he smiled and confirmed he definitely was not going to row across the Atlantic. “The thing I’m focusing most on now is getting my 2k time down and I’m really excited to row in college,” summarized Vaughn.

Here at Row New York we have a suspicion this is just the beginning of a successful rowing career for Vaughn and are so proud of him. You can check out his 12 days of rowing here.