Throughout November, many around the world come together to raise awareness for men’s health as part of the growing Movember movement. Aside from growing out their beards, many take up different challenges to raise funds and bring attention to mental health struggles and prostate and testicular cancer.
Grown out of a movement that began in Australia, Movember has raised more than US$911million in 20 countries since 2009, according to the movement’s official website.
In Hong Kong, two former rugby players have taken on a unique challenge in hopes of raising HK$1 million for the cause this month. Ben Cullen and George Fleming have kickstarted their goal of rowing one million metres on machines at a number of the city’s iconic landmarks throughout the month.
The two made a head start at the end of October, beginning their challenge with a rowing session at the AIA Vitality Park, with the Hong Kong Observation Wheel in Central as the backdrop.
The two tell Sporting News how the idea of the challenge came about and the physical and mental demands that come with taking on this month-long feat.
How did the two of you meet?
We met around seven years ago through our rugby team Hong Kong Scottish which also included a brief stint of living together.
How did this whole idea come about?
Following previous Movember challenges that, for Ben, included rowing the length of a marathon in one sitting, the idea of rowing didn’t seem too bad. A million metres as a team seemed like a challenging yet attainable goal to go for!
What were some initial hesitations or concerns when you decided on the challenge?
Our bodies are pretty beaten up from the years on the rugby field. Sustaining an injury during the challenge was the main concern.
How are the two of you preparing for this, both physically and mentally?
We were so lucky that we dropped into Joint Dynamics eight weeks ago. We knew they had helped our friends “East Rows West” with their challenge of rowing the Atlantic. A short conversation very quickly turned into “be here Monday at 9 am!” David Jaquier at Joint Dynamics has overseen all of our training preparation as well as helped us during the month with our rehab. They are the best!
What does a typical week of training look like in preparation for the challenge?
We train on Monday and Thursday at Joint Dynamics, working on strengthening our core and legs. We have also added 10km rowing sessions into our weeks to get our bodies used to the movements.
What would you say will be some of the most challenging days? Can you describe those routes?
We are rowing nearly every Friday, Saturday and Sunday during November. The Sunday session will certainly be a tough day but a great feeling when the last metres have been pulled.
How’s the fundraising going so far? How far are you from your goal?
We are a few days into Movember now and have raised HK$70,000. We are hugely grateful to all donors and people who have helped spread awareness for Men’s health and the Movember Foundation. On that note, please do give us a follow on Instagram @million.metre.men and try our awesome filter created by Shadow Factory.
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