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Ubunye Breaks 4 World Records During Global 24 Hour Rowathlon

PUBLISHED: 16:33 15 November 2012 | UPDATED: 22:04 21 February 2013

Ubunye Breaks 4 World Records During Global 24 Hour Rowathlon

Ubunye Breaks 4 World Records During Global 24 Hour Rowathlon

On the 9th and 10th November, the Ubunye Challenge rowing team held a global 24 hour indoor rowing event and broke 4 world indoor rowing records...

On the 9th and 10th November, the Ubunye Challenge rowing team held a global 24 hour indoor rowing event breaking 4 world indoor rowing records in the process. The event was organised by members of the Ubunye Challenge who are looking to raise 250,000 for Early Childhood Development projects in the Eastern Cape of South Africa and Zimbabwe. The Ubunye Challenge rowing crew will row across the Atlantic in January 2014 with the goal of breaking the world speed record of 32 days.


During the indoor rowing event the team rowed on concept2 indoor rowing machines for 24 hours each; their aim: to row the furthest distance possible. The team members were located at different locations around the world:



  • 3 at King Edwards School, Johannesburg, South Africa

  • 4 at Molesey Boat Club, London, United Kingdom

  • 1 at the Innovate High Performance Centre in Harare, Zimbabwe


Over 380 rowers from 10 countries on 5 continents joined as individuals or as part one of 23 teams throughout the duration of the fundraiser. Participants were connected via the event website and communicated through the website and social networks.


Event Highlights:


4 world indoor rowing records



  1. Ryan Palmer set the 24 hour individual male record - the blue ribband of ultra-distance indoor rowing by rowing 314,348m. Previous best: 313,250m by Phil Craze in Edinburgh, May 2011. Ryan broke the record with 5 minutes to spare.


  1. Hayley Arthur set the 24 hour individual female record (age group: 20 29) with 219,871m (previous best: 215,820m)

  2. Micheen Thornycroft and Murray Faber set the 24 hour mixed tandem record (age group: 20 -29) by rowing 314,815m (previous best: 308,060m).

  3. The University of Cape Town Boat Club set the 24 hour large team mixed heavyweight record by rowing 395,877m (previous best: 383,585m)

  4. South Africa (Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban, Grahamstown, Cape Town)


Ryan Palmer, Hayley Arthur and Micheen Thornycroft are all members of the Ubunye Challenge Atlantic rowing crew.


5,598,147m were covered in total by all participantsCountries represented: 10



  1. United Kingdom

  2. Zimbabwe

  3. Australia

  4. China

  5. Czech Republic

  6. Dubai

  7. Estonia

  8. Slovakia

  9. USA


Number of people who rowed: 387

4 South African universitiesentered relay teams of over 20 athletes each, namely the University of Cape Town, Rhodes University, University of Pretoria and University of Johannesburg


Durban Rowing Club entered a team of 28 athletes


49 Slovakian athletes joined the event. The story made front sports page news in regional newspapers


Over 100 students from 5 London based development schools joined in the event

2 South African schools, Bishops and Jeppe, joined the event


Present among the rowers were a number of notable sports personalities, including members of South Africas gold medal winning rowing crew: James Thompson, John Smith and Matthew Brittain; South African rowing Paralympian, Sandra Khumalo and Slovakian Olympic canoeist, Ivana Kmetova.



London Youth Rowing The London event was buoyed by the help of London Youth Rowing (LYR). LYR is a sports charity which aims to develop young people through physical activity and opening access to rowing at all levels. LYR assist numerous development schools and clubs in London, 5 of which joined the event.


More about the Ubunye Challenge
The Ubunye Challenge is a fundraising initiative which uses endurance events to promote the need for development in African communities. The challenges are being undertaken by a trained and dedicated team. Previous events include cycling across the UK in 7 days and English Channel solo swims. The next sporting goal is to row across the Atlantic Ocean with a crew of 8 and to break the current world record which currently stands at 32 days. We are aiming to reach a fundraising target of 250,000 in order to fund educational projects South Africa and Zimbabwe.
The team, upon completion of the Atlantic Row, will have achieved a number of milestones. The South Africans/Zimbabweans in the crew will become the first from their country to independently row an ocean. The women in the crew will become the first South African/Zimbabwean women to ever row an ocean. Finally, Thato Mabelane will become the first person of African descent, man or woman, to ever row an ocean. The team is currently seeking a lead sponsor for this unique event. The Ubunye Challenge has partnered with Vimba in the UK and The Angus Gillis Foundation in South Africa to raise money to support and enable communities in some of the poorest and most underdeveloped rural areas of South Africa and Zimbabwe. Both foundations fund and facilitate projects in consultation with specific African communities; empowering individuals and helping them to improve their lives and the lives of their families. Both foundations recognize that truly sustainable development takes place only when communities invest in themselves. This philosophy embodies the spirit and beliefs of the Ubunye Challenge.


Vimba Vimba is a relatively small charity established in 2007 by a group of individuals who were united in their common desire to do something about the suffering occurring across Zimbabwe. The name ' Vimba ' translates to mean hope in the native language Shona. Vimba is purely focused on raising funds to assist a number of designated projects throughout Zimbabwe. Vimbas projects focus on the identification, development and maintenance of Child Feeding and Education Centers in which children from a 15km radius attend 5 days per week.


About the Angus Gillis Foundation The Angus Gillis Foundation is a rural development trust, established in 2002 in response to the chronic underdevelopment in the rural areas of South Africas poorest province, the Eastern Cape. The organization focuses on socio-economic development through an asset-based community driven approach, empowering individuals, groups and communities and teaching self-reliance. The organisation takes a holistic approach to development, recognizing the multiple physical, economic, social and spiritual dimensions of human wellbeing.


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