Bryce Carlson, a Guinness World Record holder as the fastest person to row solo across the North Atlantic, will speak Monday evening in Hamilton as part of the One City One Book program.
The idea of One City One Book is to get many people in the city to read the same book. This year’s book is “The Boys in the Boat,” about how nine working-class American men from the West beat the odds to prevail at the 1936 Olympics, defeating the elite German rowing team that was a pride of Adolf Hitler.
In another epic accomplishment, Carlson made a solo rowing trip across the North Atlantic from St. John’s, Newfoundland, to England. He was all alone, not supported by another boat or anything else for the 2,000-mile trip, and was the first American to make that trip without support.
His world record was for rowing that distance in 38 days, destroying the prior record by any solo unsupported rower across that ocean by 15 days. He would row daily between about 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., with various breaks.
Carlson, who is 39, stands 5-foot-11 and weighs about 160 pounds, teaches high school science at The Seven Hills School in Cincinnati, where he also is director of strength and conditioning. He rowed while attending the University of Michigan and coaches rowing in Cincinnati.
In another feat, during 2015, he was part of a group that ran from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C., running “about a marathon a day, six days a week,” he said. That run took 4 1/2 months. Runners would pause once a week to speak with elementary students.
“My Mom has gotten pretty comfortable in her discomfort with the adventures that I’ve chosen to take on,” Carlson said in an interview.
His free talk will happen 6-7 p.m. Monday at the Fitton Center for Creative Arts Theater.
“I don’t jump into anything carelessly,” he said. “The same was certainly true with this (rowing) effort. I put a great deal of time into researching the nature of the challenge that I was facing.”
He assessed his skills, his fitness level, and “the process I would need to go through to get my fitness, my skills, and my knowledge in a position where I could take this thing on somewhat safely,” Carlson said.
We take many calculated risks, he said.
“Getting out of bed in the morning, we embrace some degree of risk, and heading out into the day,” he said. “I think we’re all comfortable climbing out of bed and getting in the car, and driving to work, because we recognize the risk of something bad happening is fairly low.”
He was alone with sea birds, but had several ways to call for help, which might be days away. His custom-made, carbon-fiber boat, which weighed almost 700 pounds empty, had a watertight cabin and sealed compartments for food.
Niki Motley (Hamilton High School Class of 1988), who co-founded the local One City One Book program three years ago with Honi Cohen, said arts were blossoming in Hamilton, but she wanted to add literature to that mix.
The remaining One City One Book event is Training like a Rower, a free event Friday from 5:30-7 p.m. at the Central YMCA, where there will be indoor training sessions on Concept2 rowing machines. Bring a water bottle and avoid loose-fitting shoes. All fitness levels are welcome.
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