Non-stop 48 hour Welwyn row enters world record books

Isaac Kenyon and Jordan Williams at Anytime Fitness in Welwyn Garden City where the rowing record took place

Isaac Kenyon (right) and Jordan Williams at Anytime Fitness in Welwyn Garden City where the record took place - Credit: Daniel Williams

St Albans' Isaac Kenyon has rowed into the world record books to help increase acceptance of autism, writes Julie Lucas.

You've just beaten a world record, rowing non-stop for 48 hours in tandem, why did you do it? 

My friend Jordan Williams and I are high school friends who both have close family members with autism and decided to raise funds and awareness to get people talking about it and share our personal stories of what life can be like for the 700,000 autistic people in the UK and their families. We want to make sure autistic people and their families feel part of the community.  
The record was for the longest continual row in tandem on an indoor rowing machine for the lightweight category, male 20-29 years age group. Previously the record was 36 hours.

You're not new to endurance rowing are you?

I hold a world record for the longest continual row on a Concept II indoor rower for three days and 11 hours. This was without sleep and with only five-minute breaks allowed each hour. I have also rowed across the Atlantic in a team of four, rowing in shifts of two hours with two hours break consecutively 24/7 for the entire 40 days. Although Jordan is a regular gym-goer he had never rowed.  

How did you prepare?  

We focused on technique, as fatigue creeps in the temptation usually is to start arching the back resulting in reduced propulsion, so we spent time thinking about the main parts of the stroke and not squeezing the handle too tightly as that wastes energy. We also experimented with nutrition to sustain energy and found that having a snack every 30-45 minutes was the way to go. 

What about the mental challenge? 

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It’s all in the mindset and if you break it down into manageable chunks it's possible to do. When I do ultra-rowing I think about the hour I am in, I don’t think about hour 45 as that can feel demoralising if you are on hour five. Another thing I like to do is think about the next snack break! Friends and family came to support us and that provided a big boost. We became more positive as we ticked off the milestones. 

Isaac Kenyon rowing with Jordan Williams cheering him on

Isaac Kenyon cheered on by fellow record-breaker Jordan Williams - Credit: Daniel Williams

What were the best moments?  

The sunrise when we got through the night. During the day, probably due to circadian rhythm, we would have far more energy than at night and it was good to be rowing with the window in front of us at Anytime Fitness in Welwyn Garden City where the record attempt was taking place. Another great moment was Hana Sladká a sports therapist who came and gave us massages and treatment halfway through and we got a few shout outs from presenter Chris Packham.

How did you celebrate?  

We had lots of friends and family come to cheer us on at the end. Straight away I grabbed a shower. Boy did I smell, and everyone let me know about it! After that, I had a beer and a huge dinner at a local restaurant before heading home for a big long 12-hour sleep.  

Any more challenges lined up?  

I have a few more world records I am looking to set. I’m looking forward to going into the unknown for a few challenges and doing things I am not comfortable with to grow as an all-around adventurer-athlete. My next challenge is another world record attempt to swim for one week in a 50m pool covering as much distance as I can. I will be doing this for Mind In Mid Herts.

To support Isaac's campaign for autism acceptance, go to gofundme.com/f/world-record-tandem-row-autism-awareness-week