Rowing Along The Rhine: 1000 Kilometers For A Good Cause

by Heiko Winkler:

Rowing 1000 kilometers (more than 620 miles) for children suffering from cancer is a huge challenge – and I’m planning to tackle this challenge this year. I want to give it my all, both from a fitness and professional perspective, see if I’ve got what it takes, and let others watch me on my journey.

After ending my sports career as an ice hockey player for Eintracht Frankfurt in the 1990s due to two knee surgeries on each knee, I started rowing at Frankfurt-based rowing association Germania. Shortly afterwards, however, I had to ditch that hobby too due to my job. As of that moment, I just made sporadic appearances in my local gym, but mainly promoted classic postural defects by sitting in front of my computer…

Somehow I always felt the desire to do sports, yet I lacked the necessary motivation to actually do it. Neither narcissistic enough to work out for my appearance, nor physically inhibited enough to actually feel the need to keep fit, I just couldn’t motivate myself to get active.

This all changed when I got to know Pedro Crespo-Ellerkamp: He too had been rowing at Germania when he was young – until a motorbike accident ended his sports career. Unlike me though, he didn’t even think about quitting, or giving up, and set the world record in rowing on a rowing machine: 48 hours and 48 minutes, plus, he did it for charity. Together with Pedro and Dean Kadiev, the third man in our boat, we achieved a great result in the “Rowing against cancer” regatta, and that’s when our idea to row down the entire Rhine, from kilometer 0 to 1000, was born. We got so inspired!

To find out whether we were able to master this challenge, both physically and mentally, we started training on rowing machines from January to April of 2015 – without telling anybody. We began with 60 minutes and 12 kilometers per day, and have been able to increase our training to 90 minutes and 20+ kilometers daily. Our goal is not only to improve our fitness and strength, but also to toughen ourselves and get ready for whats to come… after all, our hands and butts have to keep up! 😉

And then we decided to go public with our plans. Runtastic was one of the first partners to get on board with this project, ever since, we’ve been using the Runtastic App to track both our rowing activities, and our bike rides to and from the training site (even if that’s just 10K). We have, of course, also adjusted our diet as we need to ingest lots of carbs.

The right training speed on the water depends on our heart rate – and therefore, we use a GPS Watch & Heart Rate Monitor. Last but not least, the practical cases and gadgets by Runtastic help us stay connected at all times.

If you’re interested in the project, you can accompany me (and the whole boat) via the Runtastic Community on a daily basis starting in May. Log in, check out what we’re up to & follow us!

We will also definitely track the entire 1000 kilometers along the Rhine with Runtastic, and share our progress with the community!

bravehearts rowing


Heiko Winkler holds degrees in marketing communication & marketing economy, and lives in Frankfurt, Germany, with his wife. The marketer specialized in sustainability, loves combining his passion for sports and helping a good cause. Check out for more information on his project (German only).



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