Your Health

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Andrew Fielden

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When the London marathon kicks off on April 17, thousands of spectators will watch some 40,000 entrants toil along the grueling course. At the same time, in gyms around Britain, other determined athletes will be seated on a Concept2 indoor rowing machine to row the marathon distance of 26 miles while they watch the runners pound the pavement on TV. The machine allows an oarsman to tackle the endurance challenge of a marathon, rowing a distance that’s not practical on the water. Used for training by many of the medal-winning crews at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, the affordable and robust Concept2 rises above the competition: its superior ergonomics make it more realistic than other rowers. (Indoor rowing machines are popular because, unlike running, they exercise all the major muscle groups without impacting the joints.) The Concept2 also allows up to seven other rowers to compete in real time, via an Internet link to a computer. So when you see tired runners at the finish line, spare a thought for those going the distance without moving an inch. ($1,770;

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