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Gainesville man breaks indoor rowing record
Fitness has been a lifelong passion for recorder breaker
Ginny Crumley places a piece of paper marking Kelly Parham’s 74th hour rowing at the Fitness Forum on Thompson Bridge Road in Gainesville. Parham broke the world record Thursday for consecutive hours rowed. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

Kelly Parham merrily rowed past the indoor rowing world record Thursday morning. But life was anything but a dream - he hadn't slept in 77 hours.

Parham broke the previous record of 73 hours at 8 a.m., having continuously rowed since Monday morning on a machine at Fitness Forum on Thompson Bridge Road in Gainesville. He rested only 10 minutes each hour.

"Nothing went wrong," the 52-year-old manager of Fit 2 Tri said. "We've tried ultra endurance in the past, whether it be biking or running. We've had as many failures as successes so you never know when something is going to last that long, if it's going to pan out."

Parham finally stepped off the machine around noon, setting the new record of 77 hours and an equivalent of more than 320 miles rowed.

Rich Bates, a massage therapist on hand to help soothe his muscles during breaks, said the display was anything but typical.

"The average person can't try to do this," Bates said. "It's a whole different level of fitness."

In addition to massages, Parham used breaks to walk around, eat and go to the bathroom.

"I had all the health food stuff at the beginning – you know the gels and the bars," he said.

"But after about 20 hours of that junk, you get tired of it. So you start wanting regular food. ... My basic food groups are The Collegiate, Little Italy and Zaxby's."

When the gym cleared out at night, Parham said he had friends keep him company. They set up a television in front of the machine and watched action-packed movies to keep themselves occupied.

But this isn't Parham's first time attempting a feat of this magnitude.

He previously tried to break the world record for most miles biked on a road course in 24 hours, falling just six miles short of his 456 mile goal. However, he does hold two world records for biking across Georgia in 18 hours and Mississippi in 22 hours.

For Parham, fitness has been a lifelong passion.

"Since I was a kid, I always enjoyed running - even before running was cool back in the '60s and '70s," he said. "Then biking became my No. 1 deal when mountain biking first came out."

Parham said he started rowing for workouts in 1992, but he doesn't plan on ever spending this much time on a machine again.

He didn't row just to break a record, though. He also aimed to raise $5,000 for Call2All Ministries, an organization that sends missionaries to remote regions of the world.

Parham said he hopes to see donations keep flowing in.

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