Most competitive line up ever expected for BIRC 2009 this weekend

Five times British Indoor Rowing Championship (BIRC) winner, Graham Benton is aiming to outshine the best from the GB Rowing Squad this weekend (22 November), making for the UK’s fastest indoor rowing race ever. In 2008, former elite cricketer and self confessed ‘gym-rat’ Graham crushed the opposition, rowing 2000m in just 5 minutes 46 seconds a full 15 seconds ahead of the field. This year he’s expected to beat that time once again to gain his sixth consecutive BIRC title.

BIRC 2009 is expected to be faster paced and more exciting than ever before with Britain’s top Olympic rowers making a rare appearance in racing on home soil to challenge Graham to the top spot. Over 100 other competitors will race against some of the GB rowing team and Graham Benton in the men’s open category.

The men’s open category will feature top names from the world of rowing, including 2009 World Rowing Champions and 2008 Olympic Mens Coxless Four Gold medallists; Peter Reed, Steve Williams, Tom James and Andy Triggs-Hodge; along with Mens Eight Silver medallists in Beijing Matthew Langridge, Richard Egington and Alex Partridge. In addition to this, female entrants will have their eye on double Olympic Silver medallist, Debbie Flood who will be competing in the women’s open category at this year’s BIRC.

Now in its 19th year, BIRC has already made its name, not only as the UK’s largest mass-participation indoor sporting event but also as the world’s biggest indoor rowing event. This year is no exception, with over 2000 entrants expected to contribute to the competitive energy during this exciting one day event.

And the big names don’t stop with the GB Rowing Squad. 33 year old Ex England Rugby player Garath Archer will be switching his rugby boots for a rowing machine this year when he returns to BIRC for what is expected to be another exciting 2000m row. Last year, Garath won the 30-34 year old age category in just 5 minutes 54 seconds, showing that his talents not only lie with rugby. Now regularly rowing on the water out of Durham, rumour has it that he has set his sights on eclipsing the best of the GB Rowing Squad this year when he races against some of their key players in the men’s open category.

Former world record holder for Javelin throwing, Steve Backley will also be joining the sporting best at BIRC this Sunday, where he will be taking part in the Mens 40-44 heavyweight category.

In addition to the elite rowers and sporting legends expected to pass through BIRCs doors to race over the blue-riband 2000m distance this year, BIRC will also see amateur rowers racing on mass, with competitors racing from aged 10 right through to 99 year old John Hodgson.

Highlights to watch out for on the day include:

9.30am – Mens 40-44 Heavyweight category – Steve Backley
10.10am – Mens 90+ Lightweight category – John Hodgson
1.35pm – Womens Open Category – Debbie Flood
1.50pm – Mens Open Category – GB Rowing Squad, Graham Benton, Garath Archer