Sights set on Rio Olympics, IncNow Team Member returns to Delaware
IncNow Technology Director Will Purman has been with IncNow since 2011, while also training often twice a day as a high-performance rower at Malta Boat Club in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. We are pleased to share another blog post of Will’s recounting his recent travels and international race results. To catch up on how Will has been racing, you can re-visit his last blog entry here. We pick back up with Will as he returns to Delaware and prepares for another set of important qualifier regattas.
I am back in Wilmington and settling into my normal routine after a five-week training trip which took me to France, Spain and Puerto Rico. Delaware Corporate franchise tax filings were due March 1, so I had plenty of work to do as soon as I arrived.
After three weeks of grueling long-distance workouts in the canals around Montpellier, France, my coach and I loaded the boat I had been renting onto a car and headed to Banyoles. Banyoles is a small town located about an hour outside of Barcelona and is famous among rowers for being the host venue for rowing and kayaking for the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. The Lake of Banyoles is 2,000 meters long (the standard olympic race distance) and is surrounded by mountains making it both picturesque and an ideal place to row for “sprint” training. The Club Natació de Rem de Banyoles is one of the top rowing clubs in Spain and home to many Spanish National Team rowers. A fun fact about Banyoles is that they do not speak Spanish (Castellano) as their primary language, but Catalan.
My week of training in Banyoles focused on building speed and preparing for the Spanish Open, which was scheduled for my last day in Europe. I had the great opportunity to compete against the Spanish lightweight and heavyweight double scullers who are also training to qualify their respective boats for the Olympics. They provided great competition, something I am not used to in Philadelphia since I primarily train without a team. The training in Banyoles helped me place second out of 30 in the Spanish Open amongst Spain’s National Team members. Due to being a lighter rower, finishing second in this race gave me the confidence that I could compete against heavyweights in strong headwind conditions that typically favor heavier rowers.
The following morning, I boarded an early flight to Puerto Rico to finish my last week of training and compete in the Puerto Rican qualifying regatta. After about 16 hours of travel (including a missed connection in Miami), I arrived in Puerto Rico. Although I now live in Philadelphia, I felt at home and back in familiar territory when I landed in Puerto Rico. My mother picked me up at the airport and we headed directly to Ponce, where I would spend the entire week training and racing. Ponce is a very special city to me since it is where my grandmother lived, my mother grew up and a town I frequently visited as a child. The rowing venue, Lago Cerrillos, is a reservoir constructed in 1993, hidden up in the mountains within the municipality of Ponce. Lago Cerillos was used as the venue for rowing and kayaking for the 2010 Central American games held in Puerto Rico. The calm, man-made lake is perfectly designed for rowing and one of the most scenic courses I have ever raced. Because of its location on the south side of the mountain range that divides Puerto Rico, the venue rarely receives rain or adverse conditions.
On Thursday, we raced a 1,000 meter time trial to determine who got first choice of equipment. The Puerto Rican Rowing Federation only has about three new rowing singles, so a time trial was the fairest way to allocate the equipment to the top performers. I used the time trial as an opportunity to see what I could pull for a 2,000 meter race on a warm body of water. I paced myself as if it were the first half of an Olympic race. I managed a sustainable pace which would have me finishing under 7 minutes for 2,000 meters, which is my ultimate goal. I was able to win the time trial and was awarded the only mid-weight rowing shell on the island.
We had a great turnout for the Puerto Rican trials held on February 20th. A few high school rowers from the Belen Jesuit in Miami showed up as well as a few Master (age 27+) rowers from the United States and Puerto Rico. My fastest competition was from the heavyweight single sculler Mario Mihalik who represented Puerto Rico in the 2014 and 2015 World Championships. Fun fact about Mario: he was a professional basketball player who played for the Harlem Globe Trotters before moving to Puerto Rico to begin his teaching career and rowing.
For my final, I had tough competition from both a Belen Jesuit sculler and Mario for about the first half of the race but was able to move out to win by a comfortable margin at the finish, securing my entry for the Pre-Olympic Qualifying Regatta in Chile. My mom had invited a few of her college friends from Puerto Rico to spectate and there were a sizable amount of curious locals watching the action take place. It is really exciting to see interest and support growing for the sport on island and as always I am very proud to represent Puerto Rico and be a part of the development of a National Team and rowing federation.
I am now in my final preparation before I head off to Chile this Friday. I had the opportunity to attend the University of Delaware Men’s Crew Alumni winter party last Saturday and speak to my college coaches who were all very instrumental in motivating me to continue rowing after graduation. That night, the alumni association also honored UD Assistant Coach and President of IncNow, John Williams, for his 15-plus years of volunteer coaching and supporting The University of Delaware Men’s Crew and its graduates who continue to compete.
I will send updates from Santiago, Chile as I prepare for the Olympic qualifier. Adios!