Rowing for a worthy cause

HOUGHTON – On Nov. 5, Terry Smythe was diagnosed with a particularly rare type of melanoma, and on Nov. 28 she had surgery at Dana Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center in Boston.

Smythe has taken her situation and used it as inspiration for a fundraising event. She and Sarah Fuhrmann operate the local UCanRow2 stationary rowing club franchise. Since 1999, Smythe has taken part in the Concept 2 World Erg Challenge, and this year, she and Fuhrmann chose to use their participation in the event to raise money for the Dana Farber facility.

Concept 2 manufactures stationary rowing and cross country ski simulator machines. For the World Erg challenge, participants row, ski or use a combination of both using Concept 2 machines to record as many meters as possible between March 15 and April 15.

Smythe said she’s using the machines as part of her recovery, the pace of which has surprised her.

“I’m amazed at the recovery I’ve made,” she said.

This year, Smythe said in the World Erg Challenge there are 125 teams with about 2,115 participants. The local group, which works out of her gym in Houghton, the Body Shop, has 30 participants. Signing up to participate must be done by the end of today at

For people interested in donating in support of the efforts to raise money for the Dana Farber facility, Fuhrmann said it can be done online at As of Monday, $650 was raised toward their goal of $1,000.

In years past, Smythe said she has made an effort to surpass 1 million meters during the challenge, but this year she’s unable to do that, so Fuhrmann is working to get the 1 million meters.

Fuhrmann said as of Monday she had more than 500,000 meters. She was going to attempt 40,000 meters Monday.

“It’s about an hour for every 10,000 meters,” she said.

She has 15 days to meet the 1 million meter mark, and Fuhrmann – who has rowed 1 million meters twice before – said she expects to get there.

“I feel great,” she said. “It’s in the bag.”

On April 15, Fuhrmann said she and Smythe are going to attempt something, which will severely test their stamina.

“We’re both going to row or ski 5,000 meters an hour for 24 hours,” she said. “Between us, we will row (or ski) 240,000 meters.”

Whenever she starts feeling tired during her effort to get to 1 million meters, Fuhrmann said she thinks about why she’s doing it.

“I remember I’m doing this for a reason a lot bigger than I am,” she said. “That definitely keeps me pulling on the handles.”