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Local man tries to break indoor rowing record
Parham is working to raise money for friend's sick son
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Jack Alison, left, encourages Kelly Parham on Monday as he rows at Fitness Forum on Thompson Bridge Road in Gainesville. Parham is attempting to break the world record for consecutive hours rowing indoors, which is 73. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

How to donate

Donations can be brought to Fitness Forum on Thompson Bridge Road. Cash and checks are accepted. Donations are tax deductible.

For the next two days, there will be one fewer rowing machine available at Fitness Forum on Thompson Bridge Road.

Kelly Parham will be using the machine for at least 73 hours, rowing toward a world record.

Parham, manager of Fit 2 Tri in Gainesville, began Monday with plans to break the nonstop indoor rowing record.

“If everything goes right, I’d like to do 80 hours or somewhere in that range,” Parham said. “I’d be happy just to break it. The age group record for me is 25 hours — I know I can at least get my age group.”

The overall record was set in August 2006 by a man from Great Britain, according to Meredith Haff, who works with Concept2 Rowing, the company that keeps track of the world records.

But Parham isn’t rowing just to row. At the beginning of the year, he decided to embark on this challenge with another goal in mind — raising money to help a friend in need.

“A friend of mine, Athol Barnes, runs a missionary school as part of Call2All Ministries,” he said. “His youngest son, Joshua, is sick right now. They need a lot more than they’re getting. My goal money-wise is $5,000 plus.”

Parham said Missouri-based Call2All works with other ministries to coordinate international missions, making sure regions in need are being served and there are no areas of overlap. Barnes works with Discipleship Training Schools and Church Pioneering Schools for the ministry.

Parham said he was going to check the donations at the end of each day.

As for the actual record-breaking, Meredith Haff, who works in marketing-new customer development at Concept2 Rowing, the company that keeps track of the world records. said each machine keeps track of distances on its performance monitor. When an individual sets a new record, he has to go into the computer system and send in a verification code, which Concept2 uses to ensure record accuracy. The athletes must also have witnesses sign forms.

According to Concept2’s rules, the machines must be set on a minimum tension and rowers are allowed a 10-minute break each hour.

Parham said he plans to keep moving as long as possible, and said he has massage therapist friends keeping an eye on him. In order to keep himself going, Parham said he will be switching out the machine cushion when it becomes uncomfortable and eating to replenish his energy. He said because of his past endurance events, he’s no stranger to running on little to no sleep.

“I’m burning 500 to 600 calories in an hour so I’m trying to take in 200 to 250 calories an hour,” Parham said. “If you take in more than that, your body locks up and your stomach locks down.”

Parham has set several cycling records, but this is his first time trying rowing.

“It’s just a personal challenge, really,” he said. “I said I would never try it, but we’ll see what happens.”

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