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Jacobs goes East – The Rowing Team at Sportpark Rabenberg

It is 3 am in the morning. The wind is blowing in our faces as we are approaching the front gate.  From far away we can recognize some black silhouettes shivering in the cold. As the engines of three vans start and people jump into the cars, the adventure starts. A five day training camp at the Sportpark Rabenberg, close to the Czech border. A lot of expectations and a great amount of work to bring us back to our pre-Christmas physical conditions lay ahead of us, but as we cruise southwards, most of the team is already falling back to sleep  – a recovery that will be necessary for the challenges of the next five days.

In the middle of the deepest winter we arrive at the Sportpark Rabenberg, according to our strict time schedule. The sun is shining and the sound of snow creaking below our feet ignites the excitement of the entire team. But even before we get to move into our rooms, the first training session is already about to start. Boots, skis, sticks, some long underwear and a top layer of regular sports clothes and we are ready for the first introductory session into classic cross-country skiing with Lars-  our coach, who doesn’t only have decades of experience with rowing, but is also a passionate cross-country skier. Some laps of one-footed skiing, skiing without sticks and a little team race and everyone seems to be ready to go out on the slopes. But as we try our first attempts of riding downhill, most people realize that cross-country skiing is not that easy after all. Exhausted from playing in the snow and enjoying the clear air and shining sun, the team of 17 rowers, two coxswains and two coaches is ready for the first lunch – together with about 80 fourth to sixth grade students that would later turn out to become great fans of ours.

After two hours of moving into the rooms and getting a bit of rest from the morning session, the team is split up. The girls explore the slopes leading through the Erzgebirge forests, while the guys have to stay “home” – boosting their physical strength in the gym accompanied by different music genres which the team will not agree upon until the end of the camp.

Slightly exhausted, most of the team seems ready for bed after a semi-nutritious dinner during which nobody could really refrain from eating as much as they desire. So much for getting rid of unnecessary kilos gained over the past four weeks during which our Moms had spoiled almost each and every one of us with delicious food. But even after dinner, our work-out program has not come to an end. At least one kilometer of swimming that’s the demand of coaches Uli and Lars. Of course not to increase the physical strain for the girls, who almost got lost in the forest on trackless slopes during the darkening hours in the forest, or the boys, that could barely manage to properly finish their last round in the gym – just to RELAX, both Uli and Lars concordantly announce. But the promise that everyone will be able to use the sauna after the pool session raises our enthusiasm to fulfill the last requirement for our workout on the first day.

After a couple of sauna sessions and a truly relaxing time in the chill-out area, where singing bird sounds were mixed with comforting tunes on the piano, fighting back the tiredness seems almost  impossible so that most of the team is fast asleep long before midnight.

6.45 – the alarm clocks are ringing again. Time to start the day with an early one-hour session in the gym. Everyone, nearly everyone, assembles at 7 o’clock sharp to get the muscles working again and to get rid of the sore thighs.  After a healthy breakfast ranging from hard boiled eggs to fresh water-melon slices, everybody seems to be ready for the workout of the second day. As the entire team is changing into their cross-country outfits, it seems like we are slowly getting used to the routine.

What lays ahead of us are amazing days of sun, snow, and the beauty of nature surrounding us during our three to four hour cross-country trips to across the Czech border and back. The more hours we are spending together, the more we can notice how the entire team is growing together as one unit – always pushing everyone to their limits, but never forgetting the joy of constantly being active on skies, in the gym, in the pool or even later in the sauna.

At the latest after watching the inspiring rowing movie True Blue, we become once more aware of the great challenge that we are working towards and everybody seems to be ready to give their best to attain that goal – not as an individual, but as ONE team.

Thanks to the help of our generous sponsor Lürssen, we spent a training camp of five days together, which is not only helping everyone to physically get back on track, but has had tremendous effects on our efforts of team-building and growing together  across gender and level of skill. As we are now approaching the Ergo-Cup (February 13th, 2010), we can look back on an unprecedented workout week that we will hopefully benefit from all the way to our races in Lübeck, Amsterdam and Hamburg in the upcoming four months.

We would like to sincerely thank our sponsor Lürssen from granting us the possibility to spend such an amazing time in the Erzgebirge at the Sportpark Rabenberg and of course express our gratitude to Jacobs University as well as our amazing coaches Lars and Uli, who make every training session interesting and challenging in their own way.

Lukas Friedemann // Benjamin Thies