• Drew Ginn is motivated to raise money for Cancer research and support services (Rapha Australia)Source: Rapha Australia
This Friday the Brunswick Velodrome in Melbourne will play host to a feat of endurance as Drew Ginn, one of the most decorated Australian Olympic rowers in history, will attempt to break the 24-hour world record for the furthest distance ridden on an outdoor track.
Jamie Finch-Penninger

26 Nov 2015 - 10:57 AM  UPDATED 26 Nov 2015 - 11:39 AM

The record allegedly stands at 890.045 kilometres, held by Marko Baloh of Slovenia and averages out at a tick above 37km an hour. Ginn will be raising money for the Tour de Cure, which combats cancer by funding research, providing support for sufferers and funding pre-emptive measures to prevent people developing cancer.

Ginn spoke with Cycling Central about his motivation to take on the mammoth task of riding for 24 hours. “Having come from being involved in an Olympic sport, where you wait four years for your time to shine and you’re very patient in your build-up, you’re looking for challenges that really stretch you. Not just from a personal physical standpoint but also from supporting a meaningful cause like Tour de Cure," he said.

Now 41 years old, Ginn is best known for being a part of the ‘Oarsome Foursome’, who captured the public’s imagination through a run of dominant Olympic performances in the coxless fours. He transitioned to the coxless pairs, where he was just as good, and ended his career with a remarkable three gold medals and a silver from four Olympic Games.

“My mum passed away when I was 12 from cancer and for years I’ve wanted to do something for Tour de Cure," he said. "In the last few years, there’s been a number of coaches and athletes that I know that have had cancer themselves or partners with it.

“It shaped me as a kid, set me on a certain course in what I did as an athlete and, as much as it was a terrible loss, it motivated me to make the most of life."

The five-time rowing world champion is no newcomer to cycling. After getting into the sport as part of his recovery from injury he soon won the won the elite men’s category of the 2009 oceania time trial championships and in 2010 he finished sixth in the Australian road race championships. The fitness and physiology that has seen him excel on the water has clearly played dividends on the bike.

“For years I’ve wanted to do something like this, to have a crack at making a difference," he said of Friday's 24-hour world record attempt. "I’ve reflected on those close to me that have been affected, and the reality is that 24 hours on a bike is not that hard compared to some of the things I’ve seen these people deal with. I think what will help over the course of the event [is] that feeling that I’m contributing in a meaningful way.”

The motivation and perspective provided by a bigger cause will certainly power Ginn part of the way, but 24 hours is a long time and is certain to raise some unexpected challenges.

“The total amount of time in all of my Olympic rowing medals is probably a bit less than 24 minutes, so I can’t really compare that to what’s going to happen over 24 hours,” said Ginn. “The grind of it, the mental focus, the fatigue, the strains, the aches and pains will be totally different.

"In a rowing race you get questioned a few times by your competitors and you question yourself, but because six minutes isn’t a very long time, you don’t dwell on it.

“In a 24-hour period, that will be an ongoing process, dealing with the demons, motivation and fatigue. I personally think it’s going to take more of me than all my Olympic races and performances.”

Ginn is all too aware of the personal quirks that drive him to attempt these sorts of hard core challenges. “I think if you asked my wife she would say that this is just a natural progression, for me to be doing this sort of stuff,” he said.

“Twenty years of being involved in a sport - it was always an outlet for that energy that I had. This has been an exploration of riding a bike, in an extreme fashion, that has taught me a lot about myself and the people around me.”  

At time of publication the event has raised $22,010 for Tour de Cure. To donate to Drew Ginn’s fundraising drive head to his Tour de Cure fundraising page

For more information on Tour de Cure and the events they run, head to their homepage.