1 February 2024

One woman, one boat, 24 hours - Elizabeth is on a mission to set a Canberra record

| James Coleman
Join the conversation
Woman rowing on Lake Burley Griffin

Elizabeth Blower grew up in Sydney where she’d often row in the harbour. Photo: Elizabeth Blower.

Elizabeth Blower has been up bright and early every Saturday morning since September to push her single rowing boat out onto the waters of Lake Burley Griffin.

The 31-year-old is working towards a feat she suspects has yet to be achieved in Australia, let alone the ACT – rowing for 24 hours, only pausing for food, water and the call of nature.

“I did five hours last Saturday and then a total of about 10 hours Monday through to Friday – rowing, running, biking,” she says.

“A lot of it’s just troubleshooting the things you need for that long a trip. I’ve gone and bought myself a very thick, cushiony seat and multiple water bottles for the boat – that sort of thing.”

READ ALSO ‘Someone’s gone past and shot it’: New Pooh Bear’s Corner sign already targeted by vandals

She’ll set off from Sullivan’s Creek from 9 am on 9 March (the day after International Women’s Day) and row back and forth across the entire lake until 9 am the following morning. Her practice runs reveal one return trip takes approximately two hours, so that’s 12 of them in a row (so to speak).

Elizabeth might happen to set an Australian record in the process, but that’s not her intention.

She’s a committee member of the Australian National University Boat Club (ANUBC) and wants to give back by raising $50,000 for a new racing ‘eight’ boat for the women’s squad.

Woman rowing on Lake Burley Griffin

Elizabeth Blower will start her rowing feat at 9 am on 9 March at Sullivan’s Creek. Photo: Elizabeth Blower.

Last year, the ANUBC became the highest-ranked volunteer-run club at the Australian Championships (finishing 7th out of 170) and was a finalist for Rowing Australia’s Club of the Year.

“The club’s just a really great community that has given me and so many others lots of opportunities,” she says.

Elizabeth is no stranger to rowing. She grew up in Sydney and would frequently tackle the harbour, dodging boats, ferries and cruise ships. She’s also competed in a mix of trail and multistage marathons. When she moved to Canberra in 2020 for a role at the ANU, it didn’t take her long to make the most of the outdoor opportunities.

READ ALSO Lake George hasn’t been this full for this long since the 1960s – why is that?

“I would run around the lake – the whole lake, which is a pretty long way – and found I’m pretty good at keeping on doing things,” she says.

“So I thought, maybe I could use that for good somehow.”

The standard distance for rowing races is 2 km, so she’ll be adding a “new twist on things for the rowing sport”. Friends and colleagues have already committed to cheer her on from either the sidelines or a speedboat on the day, and she’s sure to need it.

Rowing on Lake Burley Griffin

Elizabeth describes rowing as a “very pretty sport”. Photo: Elizabeth Blower.

“It’s interesting – all my training rows I’ve really quite enjoyed,” she says.

“It’s a very pretty sport and a very pretty lake, and it’s just lovely to be out there. But I’m sure that at some point I’m going to have my friends there being like, ‘You can do it’, because I’ll be crying and saying ‘This is horrible’. I’m sure I have many hours of pain and regret ahead of me.”

As for what plans may be next on the bucket list, she confirmed with Region that rowing across the Pacific is not one of them.

“I plan to spend about a month in bed.”

Donate to Elizabeth’s effort on the ANUBC website.

Join the conversation

All Comments
  • All Comments
  • Website Comments

Daily Digest

Want the best Canberra news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Riotact stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.