Name: Jill Welch

Birthday: August 4th, 1978

Occupation: student/race organizer


The Challenge

    26 minute erg (rowing machine)
26k row
26k run
26 minutes of body circuits (50 sec on 10 off)
26,000 lbs of weights (no, not all at once...)


Jill Welch’s 2004 Birthday Challenge   

Hey guys! I love this website and the concept! I am a friend of Jason Mittman who did a birthday challenge with you guys, 4 years ago I believe, and I am currently the Volunteer Coordinator for a women's adventure race ( that he is planning. Anyway, he told me about his challenge and I am totally inspired!

“Expectation is the greatest source of unhappiness.”
God, as transcribed by Neale Donald Walsch

And a few weeks later... 

Well, it's August 16 after 8am and my birthday challenge is over 26 hours after it began! Man am I hurting!

It all started yesterday, August 15, at 6am. 3 of my teammates showed up to begin my challenge with me with a 26 minute erg. I couldn't believe I was about to do all of this! We paused for a quick "about to begin" picture (I'm on the far right), then off to erg! That's me in the's kind of dark in that pic. We didn't push it too hard, knowing that we had a 26k run ahead. The erg went well, and one of my other teammates even showed up for the last 6 minutes. Per one of my rock star teammates request, we did sprint the last minute at a 26 rating.


After the erg, we took about a 10 minute rest, then began my 26k run. Luckily I had a good pacer, and we started off light at a 10 minute mile pace. 
 We stopped for water for about 30 seconds every 2 1/2 miles or so to keep ourselves hydrated.

After about 3 miles our pace went up to an 8 1/2 minute pace, then settled at a 9. The first 12 miles were pretty easy, but we definitely started to feel it at that point. My old knees (previous gymnastics injuries) started speaking up, but we kept on going! 

We were down to 3 with 4 miles left, and were chasing a distance record for all of us. With about 1/2 mile left, I got a fierce side cramp that slowed me down a little, but I kept running and we finished...2 hours and 27 minutes after we began.  

My boyfriend was waiting for us for a charming "26k run later" picture. Being that this would be the hardest part of my challenge, it felt wonderful to be done! We stood smiling as we sucked on some Clif shots.

Break time! Now it was off to breakfast to replace some of those calories. My boyfriend Alex took me for blueberry banana pancakes that couldn't have been more tasty! We paused for a picture (above) as I pigged out, freezing from the still dripping sweat from the run. I'm sure the people next to us appreciated the smell!

The next adventure was at 6pm for the 26k row. We met up at our boathouse at 5:30 to prep the boats and determine line ups. 15 people showed up, and I had to send one home!!! We had an 8 boat and a 4 boat of people with a coxswaing for each. 

Pausing for a take off shot, we all smiled with excitement for what was to come (that's me in the middle with the sunglasses). I had a last minute revelation about how I hadn't been in a boat all summer, and my calluses had gone away, and I might end up with some nasty blisters. I couldn't have been more right...we all did! 

Luckily, the weather was beautiful, and what is usually 100+ degree weather this time of year in Austin was in the low 80s. It was beautiful. The gang sang Happy Birthday on the water, and we had a good time, sprinting out the last few 100 meters for a strong finish. This took us approximately 2 hours and 10 minutes! 

Just as we pulled into the docks, the famous Austin bats flew out in the thousands from the Congress St. bridge in front of a beautiful pink sunset. Wow! This was great! These guys were awesome for joining me, and everyone was excited to be back on the water with practice starting back up in 2 weeks!

Finally, bedtime, with only body circuits and weights left to do in the morning before 8am (my 26 hour mark). The time to meet was 6:30am, and I was off to bed.

After getting absolutely no sleep (well, 3 hours), it was back up to the boathouse. 6 others showed to help me finish it off, and we began our circuits at 6:45am. 

26 minutes, which is 26 stations (including box jumps, pull ups for those whose hands weren't too torn up from the row, box steps, push ups, squat jumps, superman lift, and crunches). We managed to catch a picture of me in mid box jump with 2 minutes left to go. Man am I tired, and my knees hurt!!! 

Weights were next, and I was anxious to get it over with. I upped it to 26,000 pounds, and you could feel the excitement in the room (sarcasm of course). I did it all with leg press despite the fact that my legs were pretty dead. 96 reps of 270 lbs, and 4 of the others did their variation of the same. I knocked it out in about 20 minutes, and was DONE!!!!!


This was an awesome experience and I was very lucky to have so many people willing to participate to support me in my birthday challenge. There were whispers of future birthday challenges from some that participated, and I hope I can be a part of it! We'll see what next year at 27 will bring!