Poulsbo woman breaks records in rowing

While records were shattered at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, other records are being broken right here in Poulsbo.

Hannah Ronning, 22, of Poulsbo had never used a rowing machine until 2019, but over the course of the last year, she’s broken three world records.

“I kind of got into rowing because of my friends. I started going to Crossfit, and a lot of them are kind of into it, so I got pretty enticed and started kind of picking it up with them, and it was actually my friends first that started breaking world records,” Ronning said.

Concept 2 is the company that makes most of the world’s rowing machines and has its own internal records for keeping track of records in a number of categories. According to their website, the contests are broken down by type of machine, weight, age, and gender of the competitor, type of competition and whether they are competing on the U.S.- or world-record stage.

“They’re basically just like stubbornness contests…for lack of a better term,” Ronning said.

Ronning’s friends broke records in categories such as longest continual rows over the New Year, while Ronning and a friend set a record for tandem rowing in their 20-29 age group.

Watching her friends compete inspired Ronning to commit to competing. The record for the longest continual row for females 20-29 was 40 hours – on June 20, Ronning broke the record at 48 hours.

“You had to do at least 50 minutes of every hour, so I got very short breaks. All of my friends were helping out getting me what I needed, helping me between transitions and just keeping me company because it was just insane,” Ronning said.”In competitions like these, you really need just friends and support. Eventually, it just becomes like going through the motions, but having people there to just talk with me and be there really helped distract me, and it made the time go by so much faster.”

While Ronning spent a couple of hours at the gym trying to prepare for it, it really came down to a mind over matter philosophy to accomplish the task.

“We really found out pretty quick that you can’t really prepare for it. It’s all mental and just trying to fight through it,” she said.

Ronning said the support from her friends has played a key role in her success, “My friends have been very supportive and encouraging during this whole adventure. I absolutely could not have done all this without them and I think they’re pretty proud of me,” she said.

To recover from this days-long competition,Ronning said she did nothing for a few days.

“I think I took two or three days off and didn’t do anything physical activity-wise. Pretty much as soon as it was over, we just packed up, and I came home and went right to bed,” she said.

Ronning’s most recent record-breaking achievement was for fastest to one million meters in the female 20-29 group. The previous record was 57 days, but she shattered the record at 37 days, five hours, and 11 minutes.

“I made a plan of attack. For roughly two and half hours a day, I was on my rower for the next 35 days and there were a few days where I sat at the gym from open to close and rowed for like twelve hours,” Ronning said.

When she is not at the gym or rowing, Ronning can be found working at Coast Do It Better Hardware store in Poulsbo or at home caring for her various snakes and lizards. Additionally, Ronning is training to become a wildlands firefighter, a goal she hopes to accomplish in the next two years.