Duo take on ‘world’s toughest row’ to raise funds for two local charities


Two friends are looking to complete the “ultimate triathlon” when they line up for an endurance event dubbed “the world’s toughest row”.

Paddy Montgomery and Seamus Crawford, both 30, will compete in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge in December, battling the physical and mental challenges of squeezing their six-foot-plus frames onto a tiny carbon fibre vessel as they make their 3,000 nautical mile journey from La Gomera in the Canary Islands, to English Harbour in Antigua.

The duo have already conquered the running and cycling elements, setting a course record in 2015’s Race Across Europe cycling event, and battling gruelling conditions for the Marathon Des Sables last year.

Now the Saddle Sand Sea team are turning their attentions to the final leg of their historic feat, in a bid to raise crucial funds for two local charities – The Prostate Project and children’s hospice charity Shooting Star Chase.

The friends, who met at Durham University, said the idea to tackle all three chal- lenges started out as an alcohol fuelled bet, but quickly turned into a serious charity venture.

Mr Crawford, a financial analyst from Taunton in Somerset, said: “We were at university in our last year and we heard a story about people starting to do this mad rowing challenge.

“We played a bit of sport at uni, and in our youth, and as we moved to London we got to the stage where we wanted to do something and to support charities.

“We talked about doing the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge mainly in the pub rather than on a serious level, then the conversation started to progress.

“This is the final piece in the puzzle of an ultimate triathlon. If we were going to do some- thing crazy for charity, we wanted to go all-out. As two normal blokes, we would quite like to do something a bit mad and extraordinary outside our normal lives.”

The pair said neither of them has been cut out for the ardours of extreme sports – 6ft 5in Mr Crawford describing himself as “a giraffe on a bike” for the first task, while Mr Montgomery said the extreme heat during the Marathon Des Sables was particularly difficult as he was someone who “would sweat in the Arctic”

Mr Montgomery, a fund placement agent from Crondall in Hampshire, said: “It’s safe to say our family didn’t believe us when we said we’d do it, and slowly but surely I think people have realised we aren’t joking about.

“The reason for me wanting to do these things is testing the mental side of things. The first two have proven we can, but it will be a step up – terrifying at the same time, but making sure we remain sane.

“We are quite similar in that we are relaxed day to day but are incredibly stubborn when we need to be. Thirty-five days in when you’re knackered and in pain, it’s about being a good team member.”

Mr Montgomery added: “Our key thing is we are just two normal blokes, we are not elite athletes.

“If you put your mind to any- thing, it sounds like a cliche, but you just have to go and do it. The moment you tell your friends about these things, you can’t back out.

“You don’t have to be a super Usain Bolt-type character, you just go and do it.”

The pair will be among around 30 teams from across the world competing in the race, which starts on December 13.

This article first appeared in the Independent. To get the latest articles when they appear, buy the print edition every Sunday or subscribe to our online edition HERE.