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Into Thin Air

What is it like to train at altitude?

Tom Ransley, Olympic gold medallist and current member of the British rowing team reports from their latest training camp, high in the Austrian Alps.

A man quacks at me. Behind the stainless steel trolley stacked with dirty plates is a middle-aged man in a scruffy apron. He has a pale face and a greasy complexion. Dark beady eyes peer out from a weathered face. They are narrow-set and skittish; darting to and fro as he scans the room. His saccadic eyes create the illusion that some inner tormentor has them hooked up to a line and rod, continually casting the ophthalmic bait above a sea of salt and pepper stubble. He frowns at me. A deeply furrowed forehead knits together like the glacial scars in the mountain-side behind him. He gives another shrill quack, before charging back towards the kitchen. I look down at my unappetising lunch. I’m struggling to eat and I’ve only just arrived. The team are yet to complete the first task on the training program. After lunch we must unload a van full of ergs and then head to the basement to find the weights.

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About Row360

Welcome to Row360, the world’s only global, independent rowing magazine. Row360 brings you features from around the world, profiling the best athletes, coaches, and others from the whole rowing community – Olympic, adaptive, college, club, ocean, and more.