Danube Floods Hinder Chiswick Man's Charity Row

Record high water levels making epic journey a challenge


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The record floods in eastern Europe are creating a major challenge for Chiswick man Mark Hughes, who is attempting to row the Danube from the Black Forest to the Black Sea in aid of charity.

Mark (32) and friend Jon Cowie are the first rowers ever to attempt the 3,200km journey, which will take four weeks to complete and see them pass through ten countries between the Black Forest and the Black Sea.

Mark- pictured on the boat

Mark, (a former member of Tideway Scullers) and Jon are rowing in aid of two small UK-based medical charities. The pair had to delay the start of their journey when they were held up in the German town of Ulm for a week where the river police refused to allow them to row on safety grounds. However, they were well looked after by the locals with traditional Bavarian beer and a stay in a local castle. Their target is 100 kms a day.

They became friends at Edinburgh University where they were both active members of the EUBC rowing club. Mark is currently completing a PhD in neurosurgery at the University of Edinburgh and started rowing while a student at Latymer Upper School. Jon is an accountant in the City.

Fight and Spirit, their rowing boat

The Danube is still suffering from the worst flooding in 500 years of German records and the worst flooding ever in Hungary so they have been waiting for the water to recede. The flooding has also caused problems with locks being shut.

Family and friends have been following their progress on social media, and this week the pair managed to reach Budapest. At present they have covered over 700ks of their journey and raised £5000 but it is impossible to predict when they will reach their targeted destination of the Black Sea.

Some of the beautiful scenery on the trip

The two men, who are graduates of Edinburgh University, are in a donated boat, Fight and Spirit a 500kg ocean rowing boat which will be their home for 35 days. The difficulties encountered by the intrepid pair are evident in this excerpt from Mark on Facebook, dated June 17th.

We made excellent progress yesterday and covered approximately 120km. Rowing through Budapest was a real highlight. However, we’ve run into more trouble. We were stopped by the river police here who have advised us that the river downstream is only navigable for some vessels, because of the high water. Ours is not one of them so we have been forced to stop. We’ve got some great help from a local UoE alumnus but we really need to persuade the powers that be that we’re river-worthy. Time is not on our side after all the delays. If anyone knows a way to help, please get on touch! We’re determined to get to the Black Sea.

They hope any publicity they get will result in donations to the charities. Mark is raising money for CRY, Cardiac Risk in the Young, which aims to raise awareness and increase funding for screening. He chose this as his cousin died on the day of his 30th birthday as a result of an undiagnosed heart condition. Jon is raising money for the Friends of Navajeevana, which has for over 20 years run a rehabilitation centre for disabled children and adults in Sri Lanka.

The full story can be found on http://www.rowthedanube.com and on Facebook, http://www.facebook.com/groups/rowthedanube, where their progress can also be tracked.

June 21, 2013

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