In a 24-hour charity row-athon, Phil, a member of Berwick Rowing Club, broke the overall world record for 24 hour indoor rowing, the world record for the 30-40 age group and the British record.
Tackling the gruelling challenge in the reception area of his work (Aegon in Gyle) to raise money for Stroke Association Scotland and the Multiple Sclerosis Society Scotland, the 36 year-old had the age group record in his sights. But to break the overall world record has surpassed his wildest dreams.
“I was euphoric at the end,” Phil told The Berwickshire News. “I had to compose myself - I nearly burst into tears!”
Phil’s initial target was to go for the age group record. But by the end of the mammoth row last Friday he had hauled 313,248 metres on the ergometer - beating the previous overall world record by little more than 100 metres.
He explained: “I needed some kind of goal to focus on so my target was to go for the age group record. But the last two and a half hours the support team and myself thought it was worth having a go at the overall record.
“I had to go tentatively because I didn’t want to jeopardise the British and age group records - It was touch and go to the end!”
Phil broke the world record by 136 metres, but admitted that the extra push had been mentally and physically tough. “If the overall record had been my main target at the beginning I would have tried to even it out a little bit,” he said.
“The last 20 minutes were really hard, your mind starts to play tricks on you and the minutes start to last forever, there’s lots of negative thoughts in your mind.
“But there was about 300 people in the doorway, the whole office was urging me on which was tremendous. The crowd really helped me over the line.”
With the reality of setting a new World Record still sinking in, Phil says he was relieved just to have gone the distance. “I’ve had this goal for two and a half years so to get to the finish was amazing,” he said. “I was a little bit anxious because you just don’t know what might happen. There’s a Royal Marine who attempted this two years ago - he was on for the record, then his back went after 19 hours. He said there was no warning, it just went.”
And although Phil got to the finish line covering the record-breaking distance, he didn’t walk away completely unscathed. “I don’t want to be age-ist but I’d probably put myself in the high 80s the next day,” he admitted. “I needed help getting out of the car and looking at stairs scared me!”
The final minutes of Phil’s world record breaking row-athon have been uploaded onto youtube for all to see. “Even watching it back I don’t believe it’s me,” he said. “I think ‘has that really happened?’ It doesn’t happen in my family!”
Phil’s row has so far raised around £8,000 for his chosen charities.