BRUNSWICK, Maine— Last Friday Bowdoin Rowing hosted the first annual Henry Zietlow Ergathon. Dozens from the Bowdoin community joined relay teams that completed marathons in Henry’s honor. It is hard to overstate the love that filled the room.
On December 30th, 2018, Henry completed a marathon erg at the Power House, a fitness center near his home. The Power House later reflected “while the rest of the community rowed the distance in teams of three, Henry was the single person to complete the challenge on a solo mission. His focus, athleticism, determination, and skill were on full display that day and it completely defined the event for everyone present to witness it.”
Two weeks later, on January 14th, we lost Henry to a car accident. Words can’t describe our devastation, our heartbreak.
This year, on January 11th, 2020, the Power House hosted another erg marathon— in Henry’s honor. Bowdoin Rowing thought that was a brilliant idea, a wonderful way to celebrate the life of Henry and his dedication to rowing. In fact, we loved it so much, we decided to host an erg marathon of our own!
The first annual Henry Zietlow Ergathon took place in Smith Union on Friday, February 7th. The turn out was shocking. We had nearly 20 groups, over 100 people, show up to row. Several campus organizations (namely Bowdoin Women’s Soccer, Bowdoin Women’s Volleyball, Bowdoin Women’s Rugby, Bowdoin Men’s Rugby, and the Peucinian Society) joined us.
All participants wore headbands, a trademark of Henry’s, in hopes of channeling his spirit. Many of the headbands were purple, to honor the women’s rowing team at Holy Cross. They recently endured a tragedy terribly similar to ours.
The celebration started with some heart warming words from Ben Ross ’22 and Matt Donnelly ’22. Together, they said the following: “Henry was our dearest friend and we miss him so much. He was an inspiration to all of us. Everything he was a part of, he pursued with passion, determination, and love, and he made every group that he was a part of better. Henry made our team, and the whole Bowdoin community, more loving, harder working, and happier… Every stroke we take we take for him…let his passion and loving spirit inspire you in the days, weeks, and months ahead.” Coach Doug then stepped forward to speak in turn. He spoke of Henry’s spirit, his Free Speed, and reminded everyone present that the day first and foremost was a celebration of Henry’s life.
Shorty thereafter, the voice of junior coxswain Andy Bolender ’21 echoed through the room. “Attention… Go!” And we were off. Rhianna’s 2010 hit “Only Girl (In The World)” took us out of the gate. The room filled with excitement, shouts of encouragement, and energy. Amazingly— impossibly— that energy remained in the room for three and a half hours! Non-stop music, shouting, cheering, and not a single lapse or break. Just pure Free Speed.
Cameron Snow ’22 completed the entire marathon on his own. Dozens of participants surrounded him to guide him through the last few meters. It was an astonishing performance, a testament to the true strength and iron will Henry inspires.
The last team to finish was the Women’s Rugby Team. Every single participant swarmed Alice Hawkins ’22 as she pulled the last 1000 meters. It was a sight to behold. A true showing of camaraderie, of friendship, of love. The Bowdoin community has never looked stronger.
At the end of the day, there was pizza for all and more than enough willing hands to help clean up. When asked to comment, Matt Donnelly enthusiastically recalled “the turnout, enthusiasm, and positive energy that the Bowdoin community brought to the first annual Ergathon in Henry’s honor was astounding. For three hours I did nothing but smile because of the love I could feel all around me. It was such an amazing way to remember Henry and his lasting presence on our team, and one of the most memorable days I have had here at Bowdoin.”
Bowdoin Rowing would like to thank our captains Julie and Gianni, our coaches Doug and Ry, the athletic department, and student activities for making our event a reality. It was a truly special day.
Already word has spread around campus about how amazing the Henry Zietlow Memorial Ergathon was. Rumor has it next year’s turnout will be even better! All are welcome!