Six Thousand Metres a Day for 12 Years

Keith Atkinson rowing towards 30 million metres

72 year old Keith Atkinson, President of Nottingham Rowing Club, has just completed rowing 30 million metres on the rowing machine. It has taken him 12 years – the equivalent of rowing over 6 thousand metres every day!  Here is his inspiring story:

“When I began in December 1997”, explained Keith “I had two main objectives. One was to learn as much as possible about the machine as my wife and I were part of the newly-formed Concept 2 Education Team. The other was to maintain my aerobic fitness level. I had been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis which was making walking increasingly difficult, so sitting down and exercising was a good option. More by accident than design, I settled into 2 million metres a year pattern. In 1999 and 2000 I was fortunate to race at the World Indoor Rowing Championships in Boston (Massachusetts) where I won the bronze medals in the over-65 Lightweight category.

That was really my competitive swansong, as things became more difficult. When London won the 2012 Olympics, I set myself a personal target; that I would try to complete 30 million metres by the time the Olympics opened. It has become something of an endurance trial as the disease tightened its grip, and I have had to increase the amount of work done daily in order to achieve my target whilst I still could.

I have been fortunate that the disease – I have the Primary Progressive version – has progressed at a slow rate, and I am convinced that the reason for this is that I have been able to continue to exercise regularly. My regime is an early morning start, with between 6 and 8 thousand metres indoor rowing. I follow this with around an hour’s stretching and yoga. It’s not all hard work – I do have Christmas Day off!

I wonder if some folk who read this might think ‘Get a life!’ Well that’s exactly my philosophy and is just what I am endeavouring to do.

So, what next? Well in the immortal words of Fagin: ‘I’m reviewing the situation’.