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Aug. 14, 2020
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Mark Williams Ergatta sure to steam up boathouse

By Jane Harrison 
 
Spinning flywheels and sweaty bodies will steam up windows at the Lake Lanier Olympic Park boathouse Jan. 25 in an indoor rowing contest. The Lake Lanier Rowing Club hails the 8th Annual Mark Williams Ergatta as a “friendly little competition,” but participating athletes will give it their all in the off-the-water races. Cheers and fight chants will bounce off the walls of the rowing club’s erg room as spectators urge their favorites toward victory.
 
Ergatta Director Cecily Kannapell expects about 50 competitors. LLRC has sent applications to all college rowing programs in the area. Last year Berry College and College of Charleston rowers hit the ergs along with LLRC members and a large group of kayakers. Traditionally, a few non-rowers, including runners, cyclists and triathletes, get in on the burn. Lanier Canoe & Kayak Club members often exchange a paddle for an erg handle to race against oar handlers. “Several local gyms have rowing machines, and we are hoping to have some competitors from there. We have had Cross-Fit members participate in the past,” Kannapell said.
 
The event is open to athletes of all ages, including masters, collegiate, high school, and middle school categories. New this year are adaptive events for athletes with disabilities. Participants don’t even have to know how to row. But it is best if they’ve mastered stationery rowing on an ergometer.
 
Competitors race virtual distances of 1000- or 2000-meters.” Races will be projected on a large screen that participants and spectators can see. We have found this adds to the excitement of the event,” Kannapell said. LLRC encourages all participants to race in mixed relays at the end of the competition.
 
Rowing clubs test their strength and endurance in ergattas during the winter when the water’s not so welcoming for rowing shells. Kannapell explained ergattas are important not just for the team, but also for individual rowers. “Rowing is a team sport. Most boats are composed of multiple people. The ergometer gives rowers a chance to compete as individuals and measure themselves against others,” she said.
 
“Also, on-the-water opportunities for rowing are limited in the winter time both because of colder water and air temperatures and the decreased number of daylight hours. Most competitive rowers train on ergometers in the winter,” she added.
 
The ergatta’s namesake was a founding member of Lake Lanier Rowing Club who passed away in 2011. Kannapell recalled his competitiveness both on the water and on the erg. “He was a giant of a man, known as a ‘hammer’ because of his great strength and fierce competitiveness, especially on the erg. He was also a highly valued member of LLRC because of his kindness and gentle spirit,” she said.
 
Ergatta proceeds go toward LLRC’s youth program. To register: www.regattacentral.com. Info: www.lakelanierrowing.org

Posted online 12.26.19
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