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Prouty on the River!

Prouty rowers come for a 20-mile endurance test or to spend a leisurely day on the river. All are raising funds to fight cancer

photo by David Suitor

Rowan Carroll co-founded Row The Prouty to bring people of all ages and fitness levels to the river that runs through the center of the event. Now rowers travel from as far as Boston, New York, and Maine to support cancer research and care at NCCC.

For Rowan Carroll, a single image lingers from each of the three years she has rowed The Prouty to raise funds for the Norris Cotton Cancer Center. Near the end of her route the Connecticut River bends so that Prouty cyclists on Lyme Road are visible to those rowing.

"As you come into the last 3 miles of the 20-mile row—when your hands are hurting and you're tired and sore—you can see the cyclists making their last hard ascent, climbing Chieftain Hill just before the finish line. We both are doing our hardest stretch together," she said.

This spirit of "being in it together" is what the Prouty is all about. For 32 years people have gathered in Hanover, NH on the second weekend in July for Northern New England's largest fund-raising event‑a community connected only by their passionate commitment to fighting cancer. They row, cycle, or walk to raise funds that support cancer research and patient care at NCCC, and they have a lot of fun while they're at it.

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Rowan Carroll Rows the Prouty with a friend

The River Runs through The Prouty

Rowing is a relatively recent Prouty addition: Carroll and fellow coaches Carin Reynolds and Heidi Lang co-founded the event in 2011 with 130 participants. Last year 177 rowers came from as far away as Boston, New York, and Maine to join locals on the Connecticut River. Carroll, who coaches the Lebanon Crew Team and competed in Olympic Games in Sydney in 2000, had volunteered at the Prouty but knew the river could attract a whole new group of people. She notes that it really is a lifelong sport, since people row into their eighties.

"Rowing seemed like such a natural addition to The Prouty," she said. "The Connecticut River is right in the middle of all the activities, and it offers rowers an unusual opportunity to take a 20-mile route on near perfect water."

Row The Prouty: 20-mile test of endurance, or a leisurely day on the river

Starting at 7 a.m. on Prouty day, rowers of all ages pull up to the Dartmouth Boathouse to unload their sweeps or sculls and launch in groups (doubles, quads, or eights) or solo for an up-and-back route that is as short or as long as they'd like. Some test their endurance by heading straight up the river for 10 miles and take a rest break before the return trip. Others move more slowly, making time to visit and get refreshments at the stop-and-go stations set up along the riverbank between Hanover and Lyme.

All the high school members of the Lebanon Crew team row The Prouty, and they hold group fundraisers like yard sales and bake sales during the year. "We make it fun to fundraise," Carroll said. "No one ends up just asking their parents to cover their contribution."

A highlight of the day for all involved is the Lyme Road rest stop at the 10-mile mark on the river. Rowers stop to re-energize before making the return trip, and they are met by enthusiastic volunteers cooking bacon and made-to-order eggs, tables spread with fruit salad, and pastries, and thirst-quenching drinks.

Fortified, people climb back into their sweeps and sculls and start the 10 miles back to Hanover. They row physically tired, but inspired: by cyclists passing over them on the bridge in Lyme, or seen from afar climbing Chieftain Hill; by the enthusiasm and generosity of volunteers manning the rest stations; by the sense of belonging to a community that is doing something to fight cancer. Filled with what Carroll calls "the joy of the day."

About the Prouty
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Enthusiastic volunteers man the stop-and-go rest stations along the edges of the Connecticut River

The Prouty began in 1982 when four nurses rode their bicycles 100 miles to honor an inspiring patient, Audrey Prouty. Those four nurses raised $4,000 to support Norris Cotton Cancer Center. By 2013, more than 6,000 participants and volunteers were annually teaming up with more than 100 corporate sponsors for a combined 32-year fundraising total of more than $20 million.

The 33rd Annual Prouty will be held on July 11 and 12, 2014 in Hanover, New Hampshire. To learn more about Rowing The Prouty, or any of the other Prouty events, visit http://www.theprouty.org

Can't Row The Prouty this year? Do a Virtual Prouty! "Virtual Prouty-ers" have walked the Great Wall of China, run in Australia, cycled in France, and mountain biked in California: Prouty-ing Virtually allows creative options for participants anywhere. Learn more about the Virtual Prouty.

June 09, 2014